Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “Even as Christ Forgives You, So Also do Ye” by Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk – 8/12/18

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Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”

  • I am potty training my 3-year-old this week, so it was priority #1. It made me think after our lesson last Sunday how sometimes we have big picture priorities, like God is first and our families are important, but then sometimes we have those day to day priorities that change over time, but sometimes we can get caught up in those day to day priorities and forget the big picture ones. It’s really easy to have that happen. The big picture priorities can help us manage the day to day priorities. It just gave me a different perspective on our discussion last week. We have the big picture one’s kind of hanging over us, but in the back of our mind we’re remembering to do these things but have to live our life in the day to day also and those priorities change all the time. But the bigger ones mostly stay the same in the midst of all the smaller ones.
  • I enjoyed, not that I did it every day, or as good as I could have, but I enjoyed the challenge to specifically ask what Heavenly Father wanted me to do today. The days that I did do that I was able to accomplish more of my little to-do lists that I wanted to in an easier way. Sometimes when you’re thinking about the big things the little things can take care of themselves.
  • I think it’s important to write things down. Last night I realized at 10pm that we forgot to come and clean the church yesterday morning! My priorities were with my family expecting them to come [into town] and I didn’t even write it down and I remembered two weeks ago, but it didn’t get written down, so even though it was a high priority, it didn’t get done.

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As I have pondered and prepared this lesson, I have really felt inadequate and the subject is quite daunting, so I hope there will be lots of people who want to share because it’s a good subject. Elder Echo Hawk begins his talk by sharing the story of Christ’s resurrection,

““Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

“And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

“And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

“He is not here, but is risen.””

As I watched him give this talk, he shared a very personal experience he and his family had and I could just see the emotions welling up in him. He shared a really hard story and today as we discuss this talk, I hope that you will be willing to share your testimonies and the things that have happened in your lives so that we can learn from each other. If you feel prompted to share with us, I would love that, but I know that it can be hard to share. I hope we know this is a safe place.

I’m going to begin with this question and you can ponder it to yourself, what it is that causes us to harbor anger or resentment towards others?

  • When you get hurt, or someone causes hurt to a loved one.
  • I heard once that anger is a secondary emotion, so if we’re feeling angry, then are all kind of emotions and the anger is what is manifesting. We could be sad or disappointed or hurt. Since I heard that whenever I feel angry, I don’t do this every time, but I try really hard to think about why am I feeling anger? What else is going on here that I’m missing that I’m going straight to the anger?
  • A lot of times we harbor anger because someone else may be pointing out insecurities that we may have about ourselves.
  • Sometimes we think wrongly that anger and unforgiveness will protect us somehow.

As I have thought about this over the last couple of weeks, I’ve thought about some reason why I felt angry in the past. Anger is a really visceral emotion. If you think about a time when you were angry it kind of hits you in the pit of your stomach, at least it does to me. As this sister said, it being a secondary emotion, I think of times when I was maybe disappointed. My expectations were not met by another individual. That would have made me angry. I also think that when I am sorrowful or sad, anger can mask that. Maybe you’re mourning for something that could’ve, should’ve been and it makes you angry. I think that coupled with miscommunication, we have the perfect storm for anger and resentment.

Elder Echo Hawk said that he wanted to focus on forgiveness and he wanted to focus on a few things that we need to do to have eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, he said, “Through the miracle of the sacred Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can also receive the gift of forgiveness of our sins and misdeeds, if we accept the opportunity and responsibility of repentance.” So, repentance is both an opportunity and a responsibility.

He continued, “And by receiving necessary ordinances, keeping covenants, and obeying commandments, we can gain eternal life and exaltation.

Today, I want to focus on forgiveness, an essential and precious gift offered to us from our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

On a December night in 1982, my wife, Terry, and I were awakened by a phone call to our home in Pocatello, Idaho. As I answered the phone, I heard only sobbing. Finally, my sister’s struggling voice said, “Tommy is dead.”

A 20-year-old drunk driver, speeding at more than 85 miles (135 km) per hour, recklessly ran a stoplight in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. He crashed violently into the car driven by my youngest brother, Tommy, instantly killing him and his wife, Joan. They were returning home to a young daughter after a Christmas party.

My wife and I immediately flew to Denver and made our way to the mortuary. We gathered with my parents and siblings and grieved the loss of our beloved Tommy and Joan. We had lost them to a senseless criminal act. Our hearts were broken, and anger toward the young offender began to well up inside me.

Tommy had served as a lawyer in the United States Department of Justice and was on a course to be a strong advocate for protection of Native American lands and natural resources for years to come.

After some time had passed, a court sentencing hearing was held for the young man found responsible for vehicular manslaughter. In their ongoing grief and sorrow, my parents and oldest sister, Katy, attended the hearing. The drunk driver’s parents were also there, and after the hearing concluded, they sat on a bench and wept. My parents and sister were sitting nearby as they sought to gain control of their own emotions. After a moment, my parents and sister stood up and walked to the driver’s parents and offered them words of comfort and forgiveness. The men shook hands; the women held hands; there was deep sorrow and tears for all and a recognition that both families had suffered immensely. Mom, Dad, and Katy led the way with their quiet strength and courage and showed our family what forgiveness looks like.

That outreach of forgiveness in those moments caused my own heart to soften and opened a pathway to healing.”

When was a time in your life when you were able to feel a “pathway to healing?”

  • I had a time when I had some anger built up and some thought processes that wasn’t helpful, but I didn’t recognize it because I thought I was justified. I thought that I was in the right and that the situation that perpetually caused these emotions, I thought the people involved should know better. That they were not doing the right thing. I was totally justifying my feelings and it wasn’t until I was rebuked and the Lord showed me through the story of the Pharisees and how they treated the adulterous woman and Jesus said, ‘he who has no sin cast the first stone.’ I realized at this pivotal moment that I was like the Pharisees. I was casting those stones, whether I was right or wrong didn’t matter because the Lord is the one that will pass judgment, not me. It wasn’t my responsibility and I realized people can’t change if I’m constantly throwing stones at them. If I’m constantly expecting them to be more, and I don’t even know the whole situation, but if I’m casting that judgment because I felt that self-righteous pride that people should meet those expectations, I realized how damaging that really was and it kept me from healing my own self and feeling love towards people the way that the Lord wanted me to feel.

President Boyd K. Packer shared in a talk in 1977 a parable, it’s a CES video now, about the ungrateful debtor. Another parable comes from Matthew chapter 18,

 23 ¶ Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

I really like these stories and I saw the talk by President packer in seminary and it’s really stuck with me. I think we’re all sinners and it’s hard to think that sometimes because our pride gets in the way, but we need to be able to have that mercy and healing in our hearts for others.

Elder Echo Hawk said, “My heart will always miss Tommy and Joan, but forgiveness now allows me to remember them with unfettered joy. And I know we will be together again as a family.

I am not suggesting that we condone unlawful conduct. We know full well that individuals are to be held accountable for their criminal acts and civil wrongdoings. However, we also know that, as sons and daughters of God, we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are to be forgiving even when it seems others may not warrant our forgiveness.”

So, that forgiveness we extend to others doesn’t necessarily hinge on them giving us an apology.

Have you had an experience when you had to forgive even though there wasn’t an apology or maybe they didn’t realize they did something wrong? Did you forgive so that you wouldn’t have that burden on you?

  • I was thinking of Nephi and how he said in the scriptures, ‘I frankly forgive them.’ I cannot imagine living with his brothers and them trying to kill him every other day. But he was like ‘I’m just going to forgive them and move on.’ We’re going to get hurt and be offended and if you let those emotions sink into you they will destroy you. We just have to be forgiving sometimes and that person that may have wronged you might then think ‘maybe I was in the wrong.’
  • Sometimes I think we hold on to those feelings because we want to hold these people accountable and for some reason when you forgive them you think that you’re letting go of that accountability or that proof that they hurt you and you have to hold on to that as proof, ‘look at how I have been hurt.’ If you hold on to that it cankers into your soul. I can see as I am raising my daughters, some of them forgive easy and some don’t and you can see the light in them when they do and it leave when they choose not to forgive. It’s something I know that I need to work on- praying to let go. To let go of that need to be validated in my hurt. Ask Heavenly Father to give me the strength to let go.
  • I know that all of you have had experiences with forgiving and being hurt and done wrong on purpose or accident. We all grow from this and can become more compassionate and we learn to have more charity for each other. This one experience that I had, I still contemplate it from time to time. One of our children was born early at 24 ½ weeks and I partly blame myself and that took longer to forgive than the specialist doctor who I confess that I was very angry with him because he told me my ultrasound was normal and it was not normal. When I visited our baby at the hospital I had to walk past this doctor’s door to get to the NICU. I didn’t want to walk anywhere near that door. That’s just where all my emotions went in his direction. I didn’t have even 1% of energy to waste on negativity because there was so much going on. I made a decision that I would pray for him. So, every time I walked past that door, which was about 4 to 6 to 8 times a day. I’d just say, ‘I bless you, I forgive you’ in my prayer for a month every day, seven days a week, ‘I bless you, I forgive you.’ Don’t think about it, don’t waste any energy on it. About a month later, ‘I bless you, I forgive you’ I realized I don’t have any negative emotion. I took time to think about it for a second and I noticed it was gone, it dissolved, the Lord took it. He rescued me. I was spared from that burden and it was just a little bit easier to put all of my attention on the baby and everything else.

 What strategies do you use to forgive yourself and others?

  • (Young Woman) I try to think of everybody as a human being. We’re all human beings and we all make mistakes and sometimes you just gotta remember that I’m a human being, they’re a human being and that’s it.
  • I try to do another task and try not to dwell on it.
  • I try to remember the song, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus.”
  • I have to do my part in working to forgive and let go. I ask for Heavenly Father’s help and it is a gift from Him, the ability to forgive.

We are all human and remembering our divine nature is important. We talked about divine nature last month and the divine nature of others. We’re all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Bridging that gap between our expectations of others and the reality of our situation is sometimes hard for me. I’m a first child and a first granddaughter and a first great granddaughter in my family so I felt a lot of responsibility and having to do the right thing all the time. I tried to lead by example to all these little cousins were behind me and my brothers and sisters and then I grew and so did my brothers and sisters. Some of my brothers have left the church and I have felt some anger towards them. I don’t think it is anger that is hot and mad, but it’s more like the anger masks the sadness and the heartbreak I have for them and the blessings that I know they are missing out on. Because they made that choice. One of my sweet little brothers is quite angry at the church so it’s hard to talk to him. I think that when I approach him with love in my heart and I tell him, ‘I still love you.’ Last summer he called me and let me know that he didn’t believe that our temple sealing didn’t mean anything, that families aren’t forever. I told him, ‘I still love you and I hope it’s true and I hope you can find it in your heart that it’s true. We still love you and want you to come home if you ever feel so inclined.’

Without the miracle of the Atonement our lives would be mortal and temporary and the struggles we have on earth would be irreconcilable. Addiction, death, disappointment would be insurmountable. Through Him our lives are made eternal and experiences turn into knowledge and wisdom.

In 2 Nephi 2:7 “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”

Going back to Elder Echo Hawk he said, “The teachings of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, are clear; the sinner must be willing to forgive others if he or she hopes to obtain forgiveness. Brothers and sisters, are there people in our lives who have hurt us? Do we harbor what seem like fully justified feelings of resentment and anger? Are we letting pride keep us from forgiving and letting go? I invite all of us to forgive completely and let healing occur from within. And even if forgiveness doesn’t come today, know that as we desire it and work for it, it will come—just as it eventually did for me after my brother’s death.”

The next part is really, really important. He said, “Please also remember that an essential element of forgiveness includes forgiving ourselves.”

How come it is so hard to forgive ourselves? Why is that sometimes so much harder than forgiving other people?

  • I think it’s because we know our own story. When we judge somebody else, we don’t know their whole story, but you know what was going through your head. You know that you were in the wrong and it’s just hard to accept that we’re not perfect. It’s hard because we think we have no excuse.
  • We know that we know better and we let someone down and it’s hard to forgive ourselves.
  • I think sometimes it’s hard to forgive ourselves because we don’t view it in terms of a sin or a wrongdoing. We just think, ‘I can do better. I should do more.’ Whereas if somebody wrongs you, you can say, ‘I’m going to pray, I’m going to forgive them.’ Instead we’re just hard on ourselves and we don’t view it in the same way as forgiving somebody else. We just think ‘I need to do more.’ And then you feel disappointed in yourself. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s easier to forgive somebody else because you view it in that different box, if you will.

“The Apostle Paul counseled:

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, … bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another … : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

The Lord Himself declared:

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.””

As I prepared this lesson, I just kept thinking back on the lesson we had a few weeks ago about meekness and the difference between meekness and weakness. That was by Elder David A. Bednar and meekness is an essential attribute to have if you’re going to forgive someone else. I just want to go over that list really quick again.

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Elder Echo Hawk goes on to say, “I witness this peace will come into our lives as we heed the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow His example by forgiving others. As we forgive, I promise the Savior will strengthen us, and His power and joy will flow into our lives.

The tomb is empty. Christ lives. I know Him. I love Him. I am grateful for His grace, which is the strengthening power that is sufficient to heal all things.”

Have any of you had an experience when you were able to replace anger with peace in their soul?

  • I’m not thinking of a specific experience, but I keep thinking that forgiveness is not tangible. It’s not a thing we can give somebody. It can affect us so much. You feel heavy. You feel sick. When you have given this person forgiveness, or yourself that forgiveness, something is gone. You feel lighter.
  • Science now knows that when we have negative emotions it causes chemicals to be released in our body that cause disease. Positive emotions cause chemicals to release that are healing. They actually have photographs of this happening. In a way, you can say it’s selfish to forgive. Forgiveness is the best thing for you.
  • When you take into consideration all that Christ went through and what the Atonement is, and to hold onto something is causing more pain. It’s human nature to hang on to a grudge or to hang on to insecurities, but when Christ Atoned for it, He took it upon himself. He feels what we feel. When we do feel things, we know that we’re not alone, so to continue feeling that and to harbor ill feelings is continuing to hurt.

As I thought about someone who was a good example to me of forgiving- I grew up in [a small town in Utah] and across the street from me there lived a girl who was in my ward. She’s two years older than me and the summer that I turned 13, she went missing. She disappeared and they didn’t know what happened to her. At the time her father had cancer and he passed away about 8 months after she disappeared. Soon after that, they found her body and it turned out that she had been murdered. She had been abducted and killed. Our ward went through a really hard time with that. I was a Beehive and she was a MiaMaid and we had gone to girl’s camp together and she had been my buddy at camp. So, I really had an attachment to Trisha. It was a really hard thing to go through. Her mother was really good example in my life and one that I still remember. She was quiet and she held herself with a lot of dignity and strength. She was a very educated woman, she worked at the local college as a social worker. She was a counselor there. I can’t imagine losing your husband and then a few weeks later find out what had happened to your little girl. I don’t think I ever heard her verbalize that she had forgiven the person responsible for this, but her anger did not consume her. I think she was a good example of meekness and strength. It wasn’t ok what happened to her, but she didn’t let it canker her soul. I remember her testimony distinctly that she always knew that it would be ok in the end. She knew where her daughter was and that she knew she would see her again. I’m sure, she passed away several years ago, and I’m sure that she is with her now.

I challenge each of you to find something in your life that you can do to find forgiveness for someone or a situation, whether they know it or not, it doesn’t really matter. I know that we’ll be able to find peace and we’ll be able to magnify our divine nature as we do this.

Challenge for this week:

  • Pray to have Heavenly Father help you to find the strength to let go of pain and hurt and allow you to forgive.
  • Remember to forgive yourself of wrongdoings.
  • Forgive others as Nephi did and move forward.

 NEXT WEEK: CHANGE IN AGENDA– Ministering topic discussion will be next Sunday, “True ministers focus on the needs of others.” The General Conference talk, “Until Seventy Times Seven” by Elder Lynn G. Robbins (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018) will be discussed on Sunday, Aug 26th.

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Highlights from Sunday’s Council Meeting topic: “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?” – 8/5/18

Priorities

Follow-up on July’s Council Meeting “How can knowing our divine identity strengthen our testimonies of the Lord and His plan for us?”

  • The baptism I went to last night, that was something she (the lady who was being baptized) talked about- recognizing her divine identity, recognizing and accepting that she was a literal daughter of God. It was important to her.

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Have you ever found yourself in the thick of thin things? I am hoping that this council will be more than the facts of how to set priorities or choose goals. How many of you go to one of those and go home with good ideas and it doesn’t go very far or for very long? I was just going through all my stuff and found some things and thought this is a good list of nine steps and I didn’t do anything with it, but I saved it. Another goal I have is: you’re not allowed to get mad at yourself, you’re not allowed to beat yourself up. In fact, President Ballard was speaking to the Pacific and Australian saints, which was in the church news in May, and he spoke very compassionately and lovingly to everyone and he told them, not to be too hard on themselves. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ll talk a little more about that later. It’s not good for us to be hard on ourselves. It’s a process and we’re taking baby steps and sometimes we can take a big step or we can take a step backward and that’s ok.

I also hope that we do not just shuffle priorities around. We want to really feel what is our objective? What is our direction in life? Let us tell the truth to ourselves and when we can tell the truth too ourselves then we can look at things and ask questions and ask Heavenly Father for help and listen.

There’s different types of list for priorities. I’m curious, what are some common order of priority lists that you’re familiar with?

  • I learned this from (one in our stake presidency) because he had asked me about priorities, and I said, ‘God, family, country’ and he said something about church callings are below those. Our church callings after our family. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but he wanted me to differentiate our church callings are not a part of those other priorities of God and family.
  • I also add to that, when my husband worked his previous job he was very busy and he worked with the young men for his calling and he really beat himself up about not being able to be at everything. The elder’s quorum president told him you have to provide for your family and sometimes your job has to come first, even before your church calling.
  • I remember when I was a youth and my dad served on the high council and the stake president would sometimes miss their Thursday night high council meeting because his kids were in a play or had an event at school. Not all the time and he didn’t make everything the kids had going on, but if it was important then he made it a priority. I remember it made a big impression on my dad because he would beat himself up trying to make meetings, do his job, and be involved with his kids. He realized that if he could find balance then he might need to miss a meeting because he was supporting his kids and sometimes you go to the meeting and support your kids in a different way. And that made an impression on me because at times I knew my dad was missing something else because he was at my soccer game or my concert or whatever. I just always noticed that.

I know that made a big impression on you. How did that make you feel?

  • I felt important. I felt that I was important to him. Even though I knew that God was the top priority, and church was a priority, and our family as a whole was a high priority, myself as an individual was a high priority to my dad.

That goes a long way to strengthening and maintaining relationships.

  • I remember working with a doctor one time and I asked him, ‘how on earth did you ever raise a family and get through medical school?’ He said, ‘I prioritized- it was God first, family second, and medical school was third.’ I think it was overwhelming, but he did it. He kept those priorities straight and I think Heavenly Father helped him along the way.

Have any of you had an experience of Heavenly Father helping you to keep an overwhelming schedule prioritized?

  • This isn’t really an experience, but it’s something that I try and it goes right along with everything that’s being said: that when you put God first and then pray for the gift of discernment, then I think it’s easier to understand when you need to be at your daughter’s special event or when you need to be at your church calling or where you need to be. That gift of discernment has to go hand in hand with our priorities because sometimes just helping, I’m thinking of husbands, just helping their wife fold clothes might be what needs to be done right at that moment. Or it may be making your husband an extra sandwich and putting the kids aside. There have been times when I have been prompted to do something for my husband when I have gazillion things for my kids that I want to do, but if I take the extra time for the gift of discernment, then it helps to keep those three in the proper balance and the proportions that they need to be in.
  • This really, really bothered me at the time, this was when we were first married and I was put in the primary presidency and my husband was not active. He would not come to church because I was in primary for those two hours and I could not be with him. I felt so bad, but I quit my calling in primary, which I felt so guilty about it, but I had to choose if that was more important. I chose him and being with him and him coming with me. I think it paid off.
    • So, did he start going to church with you after that? Yes.

That’s a beautiful example of having to make a tough choice.

  • There is this gentleman that was named after my dad and he was a really good example to me most of his life He became a dentist and after he had been at his job a couple of years, they offered to send him to oral surgery school and pay his way. The guy that he worked with told him if he didn’t take it, if he passed up the opportunity, he’d kill him. So, he and his wife fasted and prayed and they have six children and they decided to turn it down because he knew he would not have as much time with his family. He’s never regretted that decision.

That is another fine example of choosing family over a career ladder or work opportunities.

  • My husband is the sole monetary provider in our family puts a lot of pressure on himself to always be working to make sure we can make ends meet. Just a couple of weeks ago we had a trip the lake and he wasn’t going to be able to be there with us, and that happens a lot, when we have family trips we’ll go and he’s not there. I take the kids and have fun with my family and he’s not there. This last time a couple of weeks ago at the lake, something happened with work that he was able to go with us. I said, ‘sometimes Heavenly Father will bless you when you choose your family over work.’ (Sounds like you really felt confirmation from the Holy Spirit that this was not a coincidence) Yeah, and I actually told him that I didn’t think it was a coincidence. I told him that I know he has a lot of pressure on him to always work, because if he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get vacation time, he doesn’t get sick leave like some people do, if he isn’t working then he doesn’t make money. I said, sometimes you’re blessed when you choose family over work and things will just work out.

Learning to have faith and we can strengthen each other’s faith with our personal experiences especially those that are close to home. We need each other’s stories.

  • It wasn’t too long ago I was looking at the sisters on our ministering sisters and it had changed suddenly and I was looking at them and thinking I don’t know if I should call yet. It seems the earlier I wake up the earlier my kids get up and then my morning plan is out the window, my priorities have to change, but I remember I woke up before they all got up and I thought, ‘I’ll say my morning prayer and ask Him to help me know my priorities because I get distracted a lot and I remember as soon as I prayed the thought came, ‘text the ladies that you’re watching over’ and I saw that they were new sisters and I immediately got responses from almost every one of them. Ha I waited and not acted on that prompting, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to get to know them. I’m always thinking, do my scriptures and prayer, but sometimes I think I don’t have time to spend with others. I have three kids that are very demanding especially in the summer when their home with me. That was just a reminder that God is aware of not only our needs but that of others.

Sister Eubank at women’s conference made a comment that I thought was kind of vulnerable, “I know this isn’t unique just to me, but sometimes I’m so pressed with everything I have to do that I don’t even know what the priority is.” Have you ever felt that way? “I have started asking the Lord every morning, ‘what is one thing you want me to do today?’” Just one thing, not a hundred.

Sister Aburto said, “I want to assure you the Lord accepts all that you do.” Have you ever heard anyone say that it wasn’t good enough? That you’re not good enough or did enough? He accepts all that you do. You don’t have to do it all. You are never done. You can be ok with that. Accept that and do what you can each day.

Have any of you had an experience of asking what’s one thing I can do today? It can be hard to remember. Let’s keep that in the back of our minds.

In Bruce C. Hafen’s book, “Spiritually Anchored in Unsettled Times” there is this story: “I remember a young mother who had a large family, a responsible church calling, and a busy husband. She expressed her bewilderment about trying to decide what should come first in her life and when. Someone advised her, ‘well, just be sure you put the Lord’s work first.’ Her reply was, ‘but what if it’s all the Lord’s work?’”

We need to pray, ask, and discern. Any other experiences? How have you figured out what to put first?

  • I remember when my husband had a particular stake calling that was pretty demanding where he was gone every Wednesday night and then he got a new job where he had to travel. Every other week he was gone for at least four days, so I was home a lot and I remember thinking, ‘how am I going to make it through this?’ You discern, you prioritize, you pray, and then you have to trust. I remember when my husband was away on business, and I found this to be true when he’s gone, that the Lord’s provides protection and support. I remember being in my home praying and trying to figure out how to manage my six children without my husband and then I felt that he was praying for me as he was away. I literally felt the priesthood power surround our home and I realized that I could be a mother and I could nurture because my husband was out providing and protecting for us. I didn’t have to worry about that because that was taken care of and my job was to nurture my children when he was away and it was very clear the distinct ways that we were to work together as my husband and I were raising this family and it helped me to solidify my priorities and to know that the Lord has us. He knows what we need in our time of need and he knows each one of our individual situations and He knew what I needed right then. Just like he knows everybody in this room, the situations that they’re in and maybe their situation is that they have to provide and work, but the point is, the Lord will help and sustain us when we try to keep our priorities in line.
  • When I first came to Utah and moved to Logan, I was a single mother, I had three of my four children with me and my older brother living with me. I was in a big caretaker role, I cared for my brother, my autistic son, and I had two teenage daughters at the time. I don’t know why, but I signed up for school and so I was working full time, I went to school full time, and I took care of my kids and my brother, and my church calling, for two years. Honestly, I look back and I don’t even know how I made it, how I got good grades, or did homework, or kept all the kids under the roof, healthy and all that. But I do remember that I prayed a lot. I asked Heavenly Father to help me just to get through today and sometimes I just prayed to get through this morning’s class so I could get to work and that the kids would be alright. I think for me, the prioritizing kind of fell into place on its own because I had to do what I had to do right then. Whatever was right in front of me, I dealt with it and did it right then. I always prayed for that guidance and help to get through.

We need to pray and ask. What else can we do to get help with our prioritizing?

  • Listen

Listen and notice your life talking to you. Notice what’s speaking to you, notice clutter, notice your schedule, notice your feelings. Listen.

  • Another thing that can help us is to ask for help. There’s people wanting to help, but don’t know how. Just ask. I have a hard time with that sometimes with my husband. I’ll be doing stuff and getting kinda bitter that he’s not helping me, but he doesn’t know that I want his help. He told me that he’ll sometimes watch me struggle because he’s just waiting for me to ask. [laughter!]
  • When my kids were much younger it was so much easier for me to do it because I would do it right. And I would do it fast and I would do it the way that I wanted it done. Then you jump ahead and your kids are older and I’m just like, ‘why don’t they help me?’ They told me once, ‘it’s because you didn’t let us. You’d always change the dishwasher or you would always go back in and redo it.’ Ok lesson learned. I’ve got to sit back and let them help even if it’s not the way I want it done because I need the help more.

Some of us have more time right now. I’m going to have a lot more time in September because I’m kind of sad to say that I’m done with homeschooling, but not I get to choose some priorities, some new priorities. What do I choose? I already know, President Nelson said there is nothing more important than gathering Israel, so I’m going explore Family Search.

  • I’ve been trying to decide whether I should divulge this or not, but when I was a young mother, my husband was working 18-hour days. I had three children and during this time I had another one and I was called into the stake young women’s and I was over camp. My husband is a very good camper. I grew up in a family that you do what you had to do. You didn’t stop until you did it. Anyway, I got my husband and my children learned how to put up tents way before their time, and how to make fires, and how to prepare. Those are the kind of things that I helped my children to learn and now all of them know a lot and some have been scout masters, camp directors, those kinds of things because I decided it was ok [to get help learning about camping from my husband]. That helped my kids to also have those experiences. If we don’t just go ahead and try, you don’t know what we might learn.

Sometimes we have good priorities, we always have good priorities. What can we do though when we feel like a hypocrite? What can we do when we fear our priority? Have you ever feared your priorities? What can we do?

  • In the beginning when you talked about those priority lists, and I have some tucked away at home in a file too that I thought would be really useful someday and I don’t know if today is the day or not. I feel like ourselves are left off of those lists often times. We know that we need to make God a priority and our families and our careers or our jobs, whether that’s staying home with children or working in a field and being paid for it, or we need to make eating healthy a priority, or we need to make exercise a priority, we need to make being smarter a priority, whatever it is. The world throws these things at us and sometimes in the gospel we’re thrown things to do, but God should be a priority. Our families should be a priority. But I feel like sometimes we as individuals are left off of that priority list. That has been a hard thing for me because when I make myself a priority, my mental health, my emotional health, my physical health a priority, sometimes I feel a little bit selfish. I feel like I should be making something else a priority, but if I’m not taking care of myself, how much can I really help other people? A good friend of mine, her father committed suicide about ten years ago. He was one of those people that everyone he met he influenced for good. He was strong in the church, he was bishop and a stake president, and he help high priesthood callings, but he had some hard things happen. His mental health wasn’t taken care of and sometimes people can change a little bit and they aren’t themselves anymore. He got stuck in a hard place, but at his funeral, one of the men who served with him, shared a story of a plane crash that happened in the Potomac in D.C. in 1982 and 74 people died as they crashed into the freezing river because the pilot made a bad judgment call. There was a man they called the “6th” There were five people that survived that crash and the 6th passenger, he helped each one of those people get to safety before he drowned. He was the only person who’s cause of death was drowning. This man shared this story at the funeral that he spent his whole life saving everyone else and he didn’t take time to save himself. He didn’t ask for the help that he needed. No one knew how bad things were for him inside. After that happened, I realized that with some struggles with depression and anxiety, I do have to take care of myself. If I don’t, I could find myself in a scary place or a hard place. Asking for help or reading my scriptures or praying to the Lord or serving other people are all good and important things, but I have to make sure that I’m in the right place before I can help other people. And sometimes helping other people brings me to the right place, but sometimes I have to make sure that if my house is a disaster and my bathrooms aren’t clean, I probably shouldn’t be at someone else’s place cleaning all of their bathrooms and cleaning their house.

As the Holy Ghost inspires us. Sometimes I find when I’ve cleaned the church I feel inspired to go home and clean. That is so good, that is so helpful.

Sister Barbara Winder, Relief Society General president, daughter of alcoholic father… So surprised general authorities and people have trials too and this was before babies, and she said, when her husband was mission president and she was so busy with missionaries coming in and dinners and giving talks and changing beds and she was praying that she can’t do it all and she got an answer. The answer was, read the Book of Mormon more. Basically, take more time for you with the Book of Mormon. She said she started doing that every morning and she was able to do all of her responsibilities.

I noticed that President Eyring visiting the hurricane saints in Florida and Puerto Rico and they asked him, ‘what can we do?’ He said to people who were under tarps and trying to get water, he said, ‘read the Book of Mormon.’

Elder Suarez recently talked to some senior missionaries at a historical site. They asked, ‘how do we handle this hate email that comes everyday to the visitor’s center?’ He said, ‘read the Book of Mormon.’

Read the Book of Mormon is one of the answers to everything. I think that will help us with our priorities. Being able to feel the heavenly help with our priorities.

More hypocrite words, because I think there’s more shaming talk going on and ‘shoulds’ going on. Let’s just choose and if we fail, repent, read the Book of Mormon, and choose again.

  • I think one of the hardest things in our lives- if we read the Book of Mormon, we will read about the people in the big spacious building and how they shame and laugh and put down the people who are trying to do what’s right. We, every single one of us, are in that position- we’ve had neighbors, we’ve had friends, somebody who will laugh at us and put us down for trying to do what is right. I think that’s one of the hardest things. That’s one of the greatest things about Relief Society, is we can come together and we better not do that to each other. We are sisters, we are here and we need to call this our safe place. We should not ever put down one another. We should build up.

We cannot let Satan convince us to put ourselves down. You’re not allowed to put yourself down.

  • In that dream with the iron rod, what is the iron rod? The word of God, which is the Book of Mormon etc.
  • I’ve been holding this in the whole time. When I was going to nursing school, I did it backwards because I already had two kids and I started when my youngest [at the time] was 5 months old. All through nursing school I felt so overwhelmed being a working mom and full-time school, I felt like I had to juggle everything. In that time, President Hinkley had given us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon. I immediately thought, ‘oh my heck, another book! Another book to read!’ But it was like a deadline we were trying to meet by the end of the year. It was a short time frame and I remember taking the challenge and I cannot believe how much… I graduated nursing school with a 3.9 [GPA]. I cannot believe how much the Lord’s influence and the Book of Mormon’s influence helped everything. My priorities were different, my studying changed, I don’t think that I studied any less, by any means, but my grades were better. Everything just kind of aligned and I’ve thought several times during this lesson- the men who are our prophets and leaders and the quorum of the twelve, they have busy jobs, they are busy men- surgeons, lawyers, doctor’s and yet they have such beautiful way of prioritizing the Lord. I don’t think by any chance he, President Nelson, was one of the top surgeons just by being smart and lucky. He had the Lord very much in his life. The Book of Mormon in his life, the church in his life and he’s a great example to me of prioritizing exactly where you need things. I’m sure he struggled and his family struggled at times, but they did it and he did it beautifully. I think that’s such a great example that we can all learn from.

Action Plan Ideas.

How are we going to choose our priorities? President Ballard suggested find some quiet time so you can ponder, write things down. What are some other action plan we can come up with?

  • I think we can look at what we do in the day and see what we can do without. Replace some of those with things we need to be doing.

Yes! What can we stop doing? What is cluttering our life? Cluttering our time?

  • Think of “Good, Better, Best.”

What’s one thing you’re going to do when you go home today?

  • I’m going to read my scriptures. It seems like the days that I start the day by reading my scriptures, I’m really less interested in wasting time on my phone or watching TV or having to take breaks and things like that. I have more energy. I am happier and more patient with the kids. If I just take that 15 minutes in the morning while they eat breakfast or try getting up before them, which is not easy, but if I can do that the whole rest of the day, everything is better. The priorities just kind of line up, I don’t feel like I’m picking and choosing, I feel like it’s obvious what needs to be done and what is most important.

Let’s prioritize and read our scriptures.

  • I love the idea of morning prayers and ask Heavenly Father to help me prioritize. What’s the one thing that I can do to serve thee today?

Pray and ask ‘what is one thing we can do today?’

  • And listen because it might be something for you.
  • That was one of the talks in the Relief Society that one of the days she should take a nap!

We should take a look at our list because maybe it’s not Heavenly Father’s list.

  • I learned some things from a sister I served with in young women’s – sometimes you have to do your hair and make-up, turn on a conference talk, learn something while you’re still having to do something else. You’re doing the dishes, listen to the scriptures. Combine some of those things you know are good together.

The more we are close to the Spirit, the easier it is to hear those promptings.

Action Plan for August:

  • Look at our priority list and see what we can do without (think “Good, Better, Best”).

  • Start the morning with a prayer and ask Heavenly Father, ‘What is one thing I can do to serve thee today?’ and then listen.

  • Follow our prayer with reading from the Book of Mormon.

  • Remember to keep self-care on the priority list.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Even as Christ Forgives You, So Also do Ye” by Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

 

Awesome Reading:

https://www.lds.org/church/news/relief-society-general-presidency-shares-insights-about-the-call-to-minister?lang=eng

 

Highlights from the combined Relief Society and Priesthood 5th Sunday topic discussion, “Watching with All Perseverance” by Elder David A. Bednar – 7/29/18

Today I really hope to be helpful and I want to keep it simple so that everyone in here can find some immediate application and have some way to implement ideas either talked about by Elder Bednar or some insight shared by one of you, or just a distinct impression from the Spirit. There are no limits to the principals that you will hear and hopefully, feel today.

By way of introduction…

5th Sunday

Amen? Amen! [lots of laughter]

Mary Poppins ruined all parenting expectations! My thoughts today have to do with parenting and you know, you can’t start soon enough and it never ends. Just as a parent, as a seminary teacher, as a church leader there have been some observations that I keep making over and over again. I know as parents and those of you who are parents who have their own children whether they are small or grown, those of you who are awaiting children or are anticipating them at some point, you already have the feeling and it’s a natural instinct that you will do whatever you have to do to make sure they are safe, to make sure they have what they need, to ensure their protection. There are some obvious examples of that in our lives. We are constantly going to the rescue. We’re constantly slapping hands or holding kids back, yelling when they’re in the road, and asking them ‘what are you thinking?’ And then there’s times when you can’t do anything especially when they reach a point, and those of you with older children know that point when your influence isn’t what it was 6 weeks ago! Then it takes a while before it comes back.

I invite you to pray, sincerely pray, to receive whatever it is that you can use today in the blessing of children. There is a talk that for years, it was given in 2010 by Elder David A. Bednar, and some of you may have been recipients from me if you’ve come in and we’ve talked about struggles with children, this one always comes to mind, it’s one that I always email or send out to parents. I have pondered it so many times. That doesn’t mean that I live it very well, but as I have, I have seen incredible promises fulfilled.

Here is the beginning part of Elder Bednar’s talk called, “Watching with All Perseverance,” and it’s from the April 2010 General Conference. If you haven’t done so yet [on your electronic devices], I’d open up and start a notebook titled, ‘Parenting’ and I would put this talk in it, and tag lines from this talk.

“Recently I was driving my car as drops of rain from a thunderstorm began to fall on the windshield. On the side of the road, an electronic sign displayed a timely warning: “Standing Water Ahead.” The surface on which I was driving appeared to be quite safe. But this vital information enabled me to prepare for a potential hazard I had not expected and could not yet see. As I continued toward my destination, I slowed down and watched carefully for additional signs of danger.

Early warning signals are evident in many aspects of our lives. For example, a fever can be a first symptom of sickness or disease. Various financial and labor market indicators are used to forecast future trends in local and national economies. And depending upon the area of the world in which we live, we may receive flood, avalanche, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, or winter storm warnings.

We also are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives. Recall how Noah was alerted by God of things not yet seen, and he “prepared [the] ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).

Lehi was warned to leave Jerusalem and take his family into the wilderness because the people to whom he had declared repentance sought to kill him (see 1 Nephi 2:1–2).

The Savior Himself was spared through an angelic warning: “Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13).

Consider the language of the Lord in the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom: “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation” (D&C 89:4).

Spiritual warnings should lead to increasingly vigilant watching. You and I live in “a day of warning” (D&C 63:58). And because we have been and will be warned, we need to be, as the Apostle Paul admonished, “watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18).”

 

Any thoughts at this point? Any lines that stand out to you? Any impressions?

  • I thought about when he talked about warnings and the things that we are warned about and told and when a child asks me, ‘why do we keep this commandment?’ An answer could be that ‘I don’t know.’ But the Lord has told us to be aware of this and to prepare. I just think a lot about the things we need to do to prepare. We’ve talked about food storage and we may not know why we do things, but we know it’s from the Lord so we need to be prepared for any trials in the future.

I think Elder Bednar touches on this, but we typically, not in every case, we aren’t experts at preparation, but we need to be looking for the forecast in every phase of our lives. Some of us do it in some phases, others not so much, whether it’s financial or spiritual, or maybe it has has to do with your children’s education, or whatever. I would say our tendency is to wait for the storm before we jump in with all of our hearts and all the passion. I hope that you can understand that one of the things that Elder Bednar’s trying to communicate is, if we can put as much passion, as much focus, as much heart as we would running into the street to save a child from an oncoming car, if we could harness that, and acknowledge that and see to a point where that energy could come long before the car is 50’ away- I’m not talking about kids playing in the street – I’m talking about the spiritual welfare of our children.

I think there’s a reason why young men and young women in the church are getting more attention than the primary. That’s because all of a sudden all of us see, ‘oh my goodness, there’s danger in every choice they make.’ ‘Oh my goodness, there’s this and this, and this.’ So the early preparation, I think it’s excellent and I hope you understand what I’m saying. Primary isn’t being neglected, but we tend to really zero in when they get to be teenagers and we want to run to the rescue. One of the principals that Elder Bednar teaches is if you can see that coming before, to the point, it’s one thing to see it coming, and to recognize the dangers out there, but there’s the other part that if you would engage your heart, your passion, your focus, to the point that you will address it long before the danger is at their work or at their school. I want to emphasize there is no end, even though I have specifically mentioned teenagers.

Any other thoughts?

  • I found it interesting that he said that we live in a day of warning. Years ago they used to say that we live in a day of miracles. We still have miracles, but today we live in a day of warning.

Sometimes it doesn’t say the word warning, but the “For Strength of Youth” pamphlet is a voice of warning. Sometimes we don’t see it that way until there’s a ‘fire.’

  • In the beginning you said that this was a talk that you had recommended over and over but not might always be the best at it and I think that’s what we have to do for our kids- we can’t prepare them for every situation that they will encounter, but we can give them a toolbox of resources that they can come back to and remind themselves and refer to when they have hard decisions to make or when they’re not sure what to do because we can’t be there and helicopter over them until they’re 92 because we won’t be here that long.

“I pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as I describe a spiritual early warning system that can help parents in Zion to be watchful and discerning concerning their children. This early warning system applies to children of all ages and contains three basic components: (1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, (2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and (3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon. Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children and be better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children.”

What words or phrases or sentences stood out to you?

  • I noticed the words he emphasized, he said to be watchful and discerning. He stressed those two words. I think that’s very important to always have the Spirit with you so you can discern when your children are just having a down day or it’s something that will be problematic in the future because there is a difference. Being able to recognize when there is trouble ahead is extremely important and catching it early.
  • I think for me what was most important was bearing testimony of the gospel spontaneously to your children. I don’t have children, but I did work as an EFY camp the last year, so I raised  30 teenagers for a week, five times last summer, and I found it really interesting that in the formal teaching settings like the devotionals, they learn quite a bit, but at the end of the week when I’d ask them what the real pivotal moments were for them and what things they did learn it was always things brought up in casual conversation, a story that was told over  lunch or something like that. If teenagers are left to be taught just in formal teaching settings like seminary and Sunday school they will get stuff out of it, but it’s nothing compared to lessons they would learn in the real life applications that they can see as their parents are teaching them in real life situations, spontaneously.
  • What popped out to me was number 3, “as gospel learners to act and not merely to be acted upon.” I don’t have any children, but I’m an active uncle though. I’ve been a part of my sister’s kids since they were born. One of the things that I notice that we can recognize as the kids grow and their own personalities come out, we can foreshadow some of the things that are going to come at them. We know some of the warning signs that are going to hit this child because of our own experiences or because of others that we have seen. It’s really important to try and teach them this principal right here, to be forward acting. Otherwise, if they are just laid back and just wait for things to happen, everything is going to fall upon you. I’ve tried to teach that to the kids as much as I could.
  • I was thinking with kids, the act and be acted upon, I think it’s a lot easier for kids to feel the Spirit when they rely on the Holy Ghost and not me saying, ‘by the way, that’s the Holy Ghost and you should probably listen to that.’ I love this talk. It’s huge on parenting and I think relying on the Spirit, having that in your home, keeping that available and teaching them at a young age that they can grow to learn lots of things.

I want to remind you, here is just one definition of discern: ‘to detect with the eyes.’ That’s one way. You just observe them. ‘To detect with senses other than vision.’ ‘To recognize or identify a separate or distinct thing’ I can’t think of a better, aside from charity, a better spiritual gift to pray for than the gift of discernment. I think that as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, to pray for the ability to discern. For me in my house, my wife does it automatically, she just knows and maybe that’s a mothering thing. Me it’s a little harder. So keep that in mind.

“Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children […]” I acknowledge that it is vitally important for us as parents, grandparents, etc. to recognize spiritual growth in those that we love. To acknowledge it, to identify it, and to help them identify it.

“Component Number One: Reading and Talking about the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Savior’s gospel and is the only book the Lord Himself has testified to be true (see D&C 17:6; see also Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Liahona, Jan. 2000, 84; Ensign, Nov. 1999, 70). Indeed, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.

The convincing and converting powers of the Book of Mormon come from both a central focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ and the inspired plainness and clarity of its teachings. Nephi declared, “My soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn” (2 Nephi 25:4). The root word plain in this verse does not refer to things that are ordinary or simple; rather, it denotes instruction that is clear and easily understood.

The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth because it centers upon the Truth (see John 14:6; 1 Nephi 13:40), even Jesus Christ, and restores the plain and precious things that have been taken away from the true gospel (see 1 Nephi 13:26, 28–29, 32, 34–35, 40). The unique combination of these two factors—a focus on the Savior and the plainness of the teachings—powerfully invites the confirming witness of the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost. Consequently, the Book of Mormon speaks to the spirit and to the heart of the reader like no other volume of scripture.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that abiding by the precepts found in the Book of Mormon would help us “get nearer to God” than any other book (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 64). Regular reading of and talking about the Book of Mormon invite the power to resist temptation and to produce feelings of love within our families. And discussions about the doctrines and principles in the Book of Mormon provide opportunities for parents to observe their children, to listen to them, to learn from them, and to teach them.

Youth of all ages, even infants, can and do respond to the distinctive spirit of the Book of Mormon. Children may not understand all of the words and stories, but they certainly can feel the “familiar spirit” described by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:4; see also 2 Nephi 26:16). And the questions a child asks, the observations a child shares, and the discussions that occur provide crucial spiritual early warning signals. Importantly, such conversations can help parents to discern what their children are learning, thinking, and feeling about the truths contained in this sacred volume of scripture, as well as the difficulties they may be facing.”

We could have a discussion on the power of the Book of Mormon, but I want to focus your thoughts on what did you just learn about how the Book of Mormon can be a tool to help you in detecting spiritual growth or struggles within your children?

  • It’s not just a matter of reading, it’s a matter of discussing it with them.

I saw a message the church put out, it may have been on Instagram, it showed someone bearing testimony of that very thing. We used to just get up and each take a turn reading a verse, but now it’s turned into more a discussion. The focus is not on how much we read, but what’s discussed.

  • My daughter started reading to their babies when they were infants practically and that’s what he’s saying. She did explain things to them and I thought they were too little to understand it, but now the third one’s on a mission and those kids talk about the Book of Mormon in their everyday life. They know the stories, they know the principals, they know those things and that’s when it started, when they were babies.
  • As he was talking about discussions about doctrine he said it gives us “opportunities for parents to observe their children, to listen to them, to learn from them, and to teach them.” I’m just one of those parents that I feel like I know everything that my kids don’t know and I immediately go into that teaching mode about everything and that’s like the fourth thing on his list. I think as parents we should be observing them, listening to them, learning from them. How can I teach my kids if I don’t know what they need to learn.

 

This is what I hoped would be really helpful- there is one level of reading your scriptures together as a family and it is beneficial. It’s beneficial to have gospel doctrines spoken out loud. Then there’s another level [to get a deeper understanding], where it’s discussing. Who did this and what about that? How do you feel about that? Then there’s another [even deeper understanding] level, and this is the one, where I know for me most of the time, I don’t know if I just don’t have time for it, or it’s time to go and get ready for school or whatever, but it’s that next question, ‘When have you had an experience like Nephi did?’ Do you see the difference with just one question? “When have you had a time when you felt God was communicating with you?’

  • There was a time when one of my daughters was about 5 years old and I received a prompting like Elder Bednar said, but it scared me. We had gotten into a disagreement and I told her to go into her room so she could calm down because she was really angry. After I had calmed down, I went into her room to find her and I could not find her and I was so scared. At that moment, her life flashed before my eyes, and the Spirit told me that if do not take care of this now you have no idea what will happen. I saw the darkness was dark that when she would be a teenager, I would go to her room and not find my little girl. I was so sure that I wanted to make sure that the darkness did not continue. That I was able to get her the help she needed and help her feel the love so that when she was a teenager, she would be able to fight through those doubts and to be spiritually and emotionally strong. So that when I found her, I could always hold her and now she’s a teenager and this whole time I have prayed for the Spirit. I haven’t always had the answer, the Lord didn’t automatically say this is what you need to do, but He helped and I tried to be diligent and every day I prayed that she would get all the protection she could receive and that would be stronger than the adversary who was trying to hold her down.

I think what you just mentioned is a very example of investing and feeling so focused before the danger comes. I speak of danger as if it’s this one event, but it is continuous, there is no beginning and there is no end. I think that’s when we can sense those warnings, it can motivate us to do some things that otherwise might seem routine or mundane, but really do matter in the long run.

  • I asked my dad once, ‘do you ever stop worrying about your kids?’ and this was after I had 3 or 4 of my own, he said, ‘no, I never stop worrying about my kids, in fact I worry more about them today then I ever have and I pray herder now for them than I ever have because they’re raising my grandchildren. I am concerned about them and how they’re doing and I want to be involved.
  • I was thinking along the lines of investing in our children, the Book of Mormon is a great catalyst for discussion and we can take advantage of that. I like the way that you’re breaking this down to the different levels. The last one you were talking about is letting your children generate the discussion by expressing their thoughts and feelings and what they’ve been through. I think that’s great to let the kids get involved because that’s a teaching moment where we as parents can learn from our children.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to say and we love to tell them. That’s not going to do it. Having these moments where we can allow them to express their true feelings, honestly, and there’s nothing better as a parent than to have a child raise a concern or a problem, especially when you don’t know the answer! I don’t think there’s a more valuable lesson you can teach your children, in this age that we live in, to say, ‘I have no idea! Let’s talk about it. You go search and I’ll search and this Sunday during family council or Monday during Family Home Evening, let’s bring this up to the family and share what they understand about it.’

Don’t be afraid to have discussions with your children if you feel like you won’t have the answer. That’s golden if your children can see the process that even we are in, as parents learning. I’ll just give you a couple of examples and then we have to end.

One is, it’s never too late and never stop teaching your children. I had a moment with one of my sons who has been married for a year now and during an impromptu discussion, well my kids know that those will come up with me. I guess it’s the teacher in me, I’m always looking that. The topic came up and I just asked my son, ‘so how’s your scripture study going?’ He was like, ‘it’s pretty good.’ So I asked, ‘have you had a time recently when you felt the Lord speaking to you in the scriptures?’ He answered, ‘ yeah, I need to do better.’ That gave me the opportunity to bear my testimony to him and I told him, ‘you need the voice of the Lord daily. Don’t ever quit. Don’t ever stop.’

Yesterday, we had an Aaronic priesthood training. We tried to exemplify this principal with our Aaronic priesthood, buy you can go to Temple Square and see the lights and admire the beauty of it, and you can walk down the north Visitor’s Center and see the paintings, and as a family you might say, ‘that’s so beautiful.’ That’s one level. Then there’s the level when you’re walking by the paintings and you turn to your son or daughter, or your grandchild, or your grown child, and ask, ‘which one is your favorite?’ That’s another level. “Why is that one speaking to you today?’ Another level. ‘How would describe the Savior in one or two words? His relationship with you today?’ ‘Have you had any experiences like this with the Savior?’

I want to invite you to use the tools that we have been given as members of the church and to think deeply about how you can apply them in whatever your circumstances  you may find yourself in. These are true principals. You have an apostolic promise. Your children aren’t going to be just what you want them to be, they’re their own person. These are tools that can help you discern in advance, warning signs, that will increase your intensity of doing the simple things that the Lord has instructed, that will help us in our families.  

Yesterday on the way home, I asked my younger son, ‘which painting did you pick?’ He said, ‘this one.’

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I asked him why he chose this one, and his first response was, ‘because everyone else was picking the picture of the crucifiction’ and I said, ‘no really, do you love that painting?’ Earlier that day when we were on Ensign Peak, a teacher asked ‘what would you put on your banner, what message would you be excited about sharing with the world?’ One young man shared that his banner, his message would be repentance. That it is never too late. It’s never too late. When he said that I thought, ‘what a great testimony this young man has because he already knows that he’s not perfect and that there’s going to be ups and downs, and he knows already, at least today, that it’s never too late to turn around, to back up, to change, to improve, to take whatever current circumstance that he has… And my son referenced that, that he had heard that a couple of times yesterday from the youth. He said that ‘it’s never too late.’

I’m going to tell him the rest of his life and I’m going to tell it to each of you today, I encourage each of you to identify with Him in this painting. Ask yourself, ‘what is He communicating to me or wishing to communicate to me in my circumstance?’ Whatever it is, whatever stage, whatever you’re dealing with, ‘what does He want you to know?’

You can find it by the scriptures, you can find it by the Spirit. I encourage you to have that right now and then find a way to share it with those that you love. Let them have the same experience. I know that the Savior lives. I know He is cheering for us, He’s cheering for our children, He’s cheering for all of us, and with His power we can the strength sufficient to bear whatever burdens, to overcome whatever mistake, mistakes that we’ve all had. I don’t want anyone leaving today hitting the rewind button and thinking ‘I wish I would’ve done this earlier.’ Stop that now and go forward with faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. In His power and His strength. I know that it is real and that we have access to it. It is a daily power. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Pray for the Spirit to be in your home and for the ability to discern your children’s temporal and spiritual needs.
  • Read the Book of Mormon together as a family and then have a ‘level 3’ discussion by asking thought-provoking questions. (Example: ‘When have you had an experience like Nephi did?’) Allow your children to express their thoughts and feelings on the scripture passages.
  • Journal the ways that you can enact Elder Bednar’s admonition and create a plan to follow through: “(1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, (2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and (3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon.”

 

NEXT WEEK: COUNCIL MTG Topic- “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”

Highlights from Sunday’s Ministering topic discussion, “God wants all of His children to be watched over and cared for” – 7/22/18

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Follow-up on this month’s council meeting, “How can knowing our divine identity strengthen our testimonies of the Lord and His plan for us?”

  • I just came back from a big family reunion that we’ve never had before. It was my great-great grandfather and his brothers and sisters and all their children so it was big thing. They had come from Holland and in thinking of where I came from and looking at what they did and gave up. They even had to give up their name because it changed so much when they came here. I think of the things that they gave up so that I could be here, where I am today. It instilled that into me a little bit more than I thought before.
  • We went to another ward’s conference last week and the primary has a big sign that says “M&Ms” for ministering moments. She made all sorts of colorful M&Ms with different words on them like, share or smile. At the beginning of primary each week the kids get the opportunity to talk about how they’ve ministered. What a cute idea, even for families.

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Today we’re going to use a talk by President Russell M. Nelson, “Ministering with the Power and Authority of God” and it’s actually from the last priesthood session. We got this really neat opportunity with our family on the first week of June- my mom had this idea a few months back and she wanted all of her grand-kids, we decided ten years and older, to go on a church history tour. My husband and I had taken our three eldest about six years ago, back east and saw the Sacred Grove and all the historical places. It was such a neat experience. So we said, ‘we’ll just see who can go.’ Not everybody has to go because it was a big commitment in a short amount of time. Miraculously, all of my siblings went and all of the grand-kids that age went. It was a really amazing experience. We rented these two huge vans for all 29 of us. My husband put together the tour and he had us study before we left.

One of the places we had gone earlier [on the trip six years ago] was the priesthood restoration site. At that time, you just pulled off the highway or road and there was the Susquehanna River and there wasn’t anything else there. You could walk down and see the river and that’s the place that the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by Peter, James and John, and did John the Baptist come first? I can’t remember. Anyway, it’s a really special place. When we went back this last time, the church, and this is just amazing, had the whole road moved in order for them to build this beautiful visitors center. And they have this beautiful bronze statue of Joseph Smith receiving the priesthood. It is so amazing what they have done. If you ever get a chance to go, it is so amazing and powerful. The visitors center looks like a chapel or temple almost. It is built so beautifully inside. We learned that the only places that are dedicated are temples, by an apostle or prophet, and church history sites. When you go there, you really feel the power and truth of that event.

President Nelson said, “The restoration of the priesthood of God, including the keys of the priesthood, opens to worthy Latter-day Saints the greatest of all spiritual blessings. We see those blessings flowing to women, men, and children throughout the world.”

I love that he said, it “opens to worthy Latter-day Saints the greatest of all spiritual blessings” How blessed are we to have the opportunity through the priesthood to have those blessings flow into our lives. I’m hoping today we can discuss some ways we can increase that in our lives and really appreciate what we have.

Is anyone in here a convert to the church, as an adult convert? Can I ask you a question? What is the difference for you, coming into the church later, that you saw from not having it to having the gospel and the priesthood influence in your life?

  • The only thing that I recollect clearly is that when I was sick with a life-threatening disease, my mom called in the elders to give me a blessing. Other than that, I didn’t notice a lot of differences in things. Possibly because I didn’t meet with the missionaries who explained things. I had a dream that scared me and my mom shipped me off immediately to MIA and after that that was the only teaching I had was at young womens. The priesthood blessing the missionaries gave me, slowly came to pass and I ended up with the disease being in remission for most of my child bearing years. It was a real blessing.

Sometimes I think when we’re raised in the church and have that around us that we may not understand how to access it all the time or realize the power that he [President Nelson] talked about. He said next, “We see faithful women who understand the power inherent in their callings and in their endowment and other temple ordinances. These women know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen their husbands, their children, and others they love. These are spiritually strong women who lead, teach, and minister fearlessly in their callings with the power and authority of God!1 How thankful I am for them!”

That’s a neat statement. We can work towards. It’s not that all of a sudden we’re these women who have it all figured out, but we’re working towards it. I love that he said we can, “call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen their husbands” so as women we can access those powers. We can access it. We can access it for our children and other people that you love. There’s a lot of ways that the priesthood affects our lives and we can use that.

  • I have noticed in my life and in others, that when someone is given a calling, they function differently before and after they have been set apart by the priesthood. Something happens when the priesthood blesses them and gives them their setting apart that they change- they become stronger than they were before. Without that setting apart and without that priesthood blessing, you really can’t do a good job.

I’m glad you brought that up because he mentions that when we get set apart we should also get a blessing at that time to give us those powers and blessing. You get what you need for your calling when you’re set apart and that’s true, you are strengthened by that.

  • My husband and I just got a calling and got blessed for it, but we didn’t really get blessings for our calling, we got information on it, but the blessing was to enable us in our lives to do these callings. You need some temporal blessings too.

So the Lord through whoever gave you that blessing, knew what you needed. He talks about the faithful men too that live up to their priesthood, who serve with love and kindness. That guide and protect and strengthen others by the power of the priesthood they hold. He did have some concerns:

“Now, may I voice a concern? It is this: Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority.”

He goes on to give an example, “Not long ago, I attended a sacrament meeting in which a new baby was to be given a name and a father’s blessing. The young father held his precious infant in his arms, gave her a name, and then offered a beautiful prayer. But he did not give that child a blessing. That sweet baby girl got a name but no blessing! That dear elder did not know the difference between a prayer and a priesthood blessing. With his priesthood authority and power, he could have blessed his infant, but he did not. I thought, “What a missed opportunity!”

“Let me cite some other examples. We know of brethren who set sisters apart as Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society leaders and teachers but fail to bless them—to bless them with the power to fulfill their callings.”

Again, he’s speaking to the priesthood brethren, so I think he was reminding them. When people are set apart, they need to have blessing too from the Lord because we need that.

“We see a worthy father who fails to give his wife and his children priesthood blessings when that is exactly what they need. Priesthood power has been restored to this earth, and yet far too many brothers and sisters go through terrible trials in life without ever receiving a true priesthood blessing.”

What can we do as women, as sisters, to help, to encourage, and access the priesthood? If our husbands aren’t giving blessings, what can we do to help with that?

  • We can ask for them. My husband very rarely offers blessings because he wants to be asked to do it. But the second any of ask or bring it up, he is absolutely ready and loves to do it. He just wants to be asked.
  • Every new school year our kids were really looking forward to the back to school father’s blessing. We’d do a family home evening on it. Even when they were in college they would come home for that. I would write them [the blessings] down for them too, so they’d have that look at later.
  • When I was a child I would get terrible growing pains, leg aches, and one night I was crying and my dad came in, I’m sure my mom said ‘it’s your turn’ and I asked him if he’d give me a blessing and he said, ‘no.’ I was so surprised and I said will you pray for me and he said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘I can’t.’ I was so confused and frustrated and he said, ‘you pray.’ So, I prayed and he prayed with me and I felt better that he prayed with me. Given a few more years he came back into activity and eventually served in the bishopric.

That’s so awesome because that could’ve been one of the things, because you asked, that could’ve been something that gave him more of a desire to give you a blessing later. I think that’s really important. I was talking to my husband this morning [he is in the stake presidency] and he said that even men that aren’t active in the church can bless their family. I don’t know if you knew that. You can still ask them and who knows if that’ll be some kind of catalyst that will start to change things.

  • Just because they hold the priesthood doesn’t mean they’re very confident about all of that. I have found that within my family they might think that we don’t want them to give a blessing. They might be afraid too. So we have to offer them a little more confidence and tell them that with the Lord’s help they can do it.
  • The reason they can still give blessings when they’re not active is because the blessing is not based on the priesthood holder’s faith- it is based on the person receiving the blessing’s faith.
  • As you were talking about that I was thinking, right before you said, I thought my husband really needs to give our three oldest grandchildren a blessing when we go visit because my son is not active in church. Literally, as that thought entered my mind, you said they can give them blessings. I thought, ‘wow! That was an immediate answer to a prayer that was in my heart at that very moment.’ Heavenly Father is listening. He really wants to help each one of us, however we can get those blessings from him.
  • After I had my baby, I had a few complications and I spent some time in the hospital and before the doctors could figure out what was wrong, I told my husband that I needed a blessing. I thought I was going to die in the hospital, like I seriously thought I was not coming home. Apparently my doctor didn’t think that and neither did my husband, but I did, so I asked him for a blessing and he found someone that could some and help give me a blessing. One of the things he said was that in this life I will have some trials and tribulations that I will just have to kind of deal with and work through. The message was definitely from the Lord, but the language was my husband’s and we’ve joked about it a little that I just have to deal with this- that I feel like I’m dying. Within an hour of that blessing, they sent me up for a CT and they found out what the problem was and I went in for another emergency surgery and they fixed the problem. A couple of days later I was having a hard time and I asked for another blessing and this time he said something like, ‘may you speedily recover’ and I thought ‘oh great, I won’t have to deal with this anymore.’ But shortly after that blessing I was able to start eating etc., so I could get ready to get discharged from the hospital. A week later I was frustrated and all kinds of hormones and crazy things and I asked for a third blessing which my husband and brother gave me. I don’t remember what was said, but the feeling I got was the Lord telling me that I could ‘ask for as many blessings as I want, and I know you have the faith to be healed, but you need to be patient with your body while it heals.’ I was able to get comforting words and messages and things were able to be healed as they need to be for the next step to happen, but at that point it was clear that I needed to be patient while my body healed. He was not going to give me a miracle that I was going to be carrying my baby around and have everything healed up right away.

It’s good that you got enough blessings to help you understand the process. Sometimes we don’t get the answer right away. There are some things that people might not get healed from for years maybe. We do have to think about that the Lord has purposes and the Lord has time frames and it’s in His time frame. We just sent our son to the MTC for his mission this past Wednesday and that’s always hard. This time was by far, for some reason, the hardest one so far for me. Right before we left to drive down to the MTC my husband asked our son to give him a blessing. He did it and he’s only been an elder for a couple of months and he’s had some opportunities to give blessings which has been really neat, but he gave the blessing to my husband. It was so cool. It was slow and you could tell that he had to think pause more than someone who is more used to giving blessings, but then at the end he said some really, really powerful, unexpected stuff that was amazing. I do think that it’s important that we give people the opportunity  to give us blessings.

When the general authority came to our last stake conference, which was shortly after my knee surgery, the stake president and his wife were gone that day, so they had lunch at our house. I was a basket case because I couldn’t get around to clean, anyway, I had tons of people come and help and minister to us, you guys are so amazing. So, I had all the help that I needed and they came for lunch and it was so neat because he was able to give one on one conversations with my kids and give advice. It was so special. He told us that when they had lost a child, his wife was absolutely distraught. He told us that if you need to bless your wife every day then you do it. Every day for however long. Or for somebody in your family. Just keep asking and keep giving and go to somebody that you can get the help from. We just need to access that more because in those [blessings] are direct messages to us from Heavenly Father.

This is an important part of the lesson, he said, “A hallmark of the Lord’s true and living Church will always be an organized, directed effort to minister to individual children of God and their families. Because it is His Church, we as His servants will minister to the one, just as He did. We will minister in His name, with His power and authority, and with His loving-kindness.”

This is something about the church is that it’s going to be organized, it’s set up exactly how it’s supposed to be, and of the scriptures that he gave us is Mosiah 18:21-22. A little background: this is Alma and he was one of King Noah’s priests and then he heard Abinidi come and speak and he was touched and eventually converted. He left and he started teaching and had followers and he was given the keys of the priesthood and he started to organize the church.

Mosiah 18:21-22

21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.

What are some words in there that stick out to you as to why we need the organization of the church?

  • Knit together

Yes, when we come together something happens. It says, “one eye” and “one faith” and “one baptism.” Not a whole bunch of different ways to baptize- there’s one way and there’s one Lord and it makes sense because the Lord is going to be an organized person and He’s going to run things in order. I love at the end it says that we can become children of God. So it’s through this journey that we become truly converted children of God.

It’s easy for people to say nowadays ‘I don’t need church. I can just go up on the mountain and get my revelation,’ which is true, you can get it there, but why do we need to be together here? Why do we need this?

  • We need each other. We need to help like when someone has a baby we take a meal in, when somebody moves we help, we help each other, we need each other.

Yeah, we do! I need you guys, seriously, like every Sunday someone says something that means something to me and I need it to help me get through my week.

  • A huge part is the hearing and bearing of testimonies. How often do you actually say the words, ‘ I believe in Jesus Christ’ outside of church? There’s power in saying those words. It builds faith being able to say that out loud and having people who agree.

So, it’s important that we recognize the authority and the power is here and we have it. I’m going to tell you one story that he talked about, “An experience I had more than 60 years ago in Boston taught me just how powerful the privilege of ministering one-on-one can be. I was then a resident surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital—on duty every day, every other night, and every other weekend. I had limited time for my wife, our four children, and Church activity. Nonetheless, our branch president assigned me to visit the home of Wilbur and Leonora Cox with the hope that Brother Cox might come back into activity in the Church. He and Leonora had been sealed in the temple. Yet Wilbur had not participated for many years.

My companion and I went to their home. As we entered, Sister Cox welcomed us warmly, but Brother Cox abruptly walked into another room and closed the door.

I went to the closed door and knocked. After a moment, I heard a muffled “Come in.” I opened the door to find Brother Cox sitting beside an array of amateur radio equipment. In that small room, he lit up a cigar. Clearly, my visit was not all that welcome.

I gazed about the room with wonderment and said, “Brother Cox, I have always wanted to learn more about amateur radio work. Would you be willing to teach me about it? I’m sorry I can’t stay any longer tonight, but could I come back another time?”

He hesitated for a moment and then said yes. That was the beginning of what became a wonderful friendship. I returned and he taught me. I began to love and respect him. Through our subsequent visits, the greatness of this man emerged. We became very good friends, as did our dear eternal companions. Then, with the passage of time, our family moved away. Local leaders continued to nurture the Cox family.

About eight years after that first visit, the Boston Stake was created. Can you guess who its first stake president was? Yes! Brother Cox! During subsequent years, he also served as a mission president and a temple president.

Years later, I, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was assigned to create a new stake in Sanpete County, Utah. During the usual interviews, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter again my dear friend Brother Cox! I felt impressed to call him as the new stake patriarch. After I ordained him, we embraced each other and wept. People in the room were wondering why these two grown men were crying. But we knew. And Sister Cox knew. Ours were tears of joy! We silently remembered the incredible journey of love and repentance that began more than 30 years ago, one night in their home.

The account doesn’t end there. Brother and Sister Cox’s family grew to include 3 children, 20 grandchildren, and 54 great-grandchildren. Add to that their impact on hundreds of missionaries, on thousands more in the temple, and on hundreds more who received patriarchal blessings at the hands of Wilbur Cox. His and Leonora’s influence will continue to ripple through many generations throughout the world.”

The Cox’s eventually moved to Sanpete County and they hired my husband, which was his first job, to do yard work for SIster Cox. He said they were just amazing people. I wonder, what would’ve happened if President Nelson hadn’t gone over and knocked on his door? We just never know- we have to be bold and we have to use the power that the Lord’s given us. It’s kind of scary sometimes to be bold and sometimes it’s uncomfortable to ask for a blessing and to call down the power of the priesthood, but we can do it. I know that we’ll be strengthened as we do it.

I’m so thankful for the things I’ve learned lately. You wouldn’t think that a knee surgery is that big of a deal, but it was so much harder than I thought. For me, it was very difficult. I had to be off it for 6 weeks and the other stuff that came with it was the hardest. Like not being able to sleep and I had anxiety that came that I’ve never really had like that before. The only thing that I could do when I was just laying there awake at night and I felt kind of trapped because I couldn’t move  alot at the beginning, was to listen to conference talks. That was the thing that would get my mind off of it and I could feel peace and I could eventually go back to sleep. I’ve listened to this last conference, seriously, like five times- the whole thing! I’m so grateful for hard times, isn’t that weird/ Because you’ve heard people say that before, but I think Heavenly Father was needing me to get a little more into, a little more receptive, a little more open to inspiration. And I did get inspiration and thoughts about things I needed to do for my kids. I started to make some changes. I’ve tried to put the Lord first in my day and do better with listening to the Book of Mormon or reading it first, so I can start the right way. It’s really made a huge difference in my life. It’s really kind of changed me. I’m so thankful for the things that we learn. I also received many priesthood blessings that were a real comfort, strength and help to me.

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Think about an experience you have had with a priesthood blessing- journal how you felt through that experience and how it strengthened your testimony.
  • As needed, ask a worthy priesthood holder for a blessing.
  • Make preparations to have your children receive a father’s blessing before returning to school.

 

NEXT WEEK Jul 29: Fifth Sunday, combined Relief Society and Priesthood meeting. Aug 5: COUNCIL MTG Topic- “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”

Highlights from Sunday’s topic discussion, “Meek and Lowly of Heart” by Elder David A. Bednar – 7/15/18

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Follow-up on this month’s council meeting, How can knowing our divine identity strengthen our testimonies of the Lord and His plan for us?”

  • In remembering who you are, there was a time when my dad was going through about ten different mental issues at a time. I was talking to my mother-in law and she said, ‘have you thought of asking him for a father’s blessing?’ I realized that I hadn’t because I didn’t know if he was mentally there. He doesn’t have Parkinson’s but he shakes a lot and I didn’t know how that would be with him giving a blessing. I prayed and then felt like it would be a good idea and so I asked him. I hadn’t been able to ask him for a long, long time because he hasn’t been very healthy. It was one of the most special prayers or blessings that I’ve had. He has suffered since I was in the 8th grade, so a long time. He has dementia, he’s bipolar, has schizophrenia, and he had a stroke, so I didn’t know his mental capacity. But the Spirit still speaks through him. Even though I was being bounced around during the blessing, the Spirit was still there.

I have really enjoyed the topic discussions this month on divine identity. That was definitely not something I understood as a young woman. I remember being taught in young women’s before my family left the church, about divine identity, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. So, I sort of left that there in the past. Through the years, as I raised my daughters I really wanted to understand that more, so I put some time and effort into learning more about that. This month has been great as we’ve thought about it [divine identity] and I have really enjoyed everybody sharing- your comments, your stories, and the lessons that we’ve had.

What’s special about today’s lesson, in this talk, and this was mentioned in last week’s lesson, that we can learn about our divine identity by learning about Christ and Heavenly Father. This talk specifically helps us learn about Christ and something special about His divine identity and how that can relate to us.

The main divine identity characteristic that he talks about is meekness. The whole talk revolves around this concept of meekness as it relates to Christ, but he also gives us some other examples to help us learn about how it manifests in other people and other situations.

So, to begin, I’m going to take a cue from one of my favorite teachers and I’m going to ask you to get into groups. Elder Bednar gives us four examples and in each group I’d like you to read the segment provided and answer the questions. In the envelope will be insights from Elder Bednar and you can open it when you finish your discussion to see if your thoughts were somewhat in line with his. Then we’ll get back together and share what we learn.

Example #1. The Rich Young Man and Amulek

“In the New Testament, we learn about a rich young man who asked Jesus, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” The Savior first admonished him to keep the commandments. The Master next gave the young man an additional requirement customized to his specific needs and circumstances.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Compare the response of the rich young man with the experience of Amulek, as described in the Book of Mormon. Amulek was an industrious and prosperous man with many kindreds and friends. He described himself as a man who was called many times but would not hear, a man who knew the things of God but would not know. A basically good man, Amulek was distracted by worldly concerns much like the rich young man described in the New Testament.

Even though he had previously hardened his heart, Amulek obeyed the voice of an angel, received the prophet Alma in his home, and provided nourishment to him. He was spiritually awakened during Alma’s visit and was called to preach the gospel. Amulek then forsook “all his gold, and silver, and his precious things … for the word of God, [and was] rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred.””

What are some characteristics of each man?

  • Both are basically good men.
  • They had hope for eternal life.

The rich young man

  • He didn’t want to change his lifestyle.
  • He was comfortable and didn’t want to change.
  • He was happy to be stagnant.

Amulek

  • He was willing to change. He had turned away in the past, but was now ready.
  • He was prepared to make that change.
  • He was willing to move forward.

What do you think explains the difference between the responses of the rich young man and Amulek?

  • That fear of change- one was more willing to go out of their comfort zone.
  • Amulek had more of a willingness to change and possibly had a stronger testimony.
  • Stage in life might have made a big difference.

**Insight from Elder Bednar, “Amulek willingly submitted to God’s will, accepted a call to preach the gospel, and left behind his comfortable circumstances and familiar relationships.”

Example #2. Pahoran

“During a perilous period of war described in the Book of Mormon, an exchange of epistles occurred between Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, and Pahoran, the chief judge and governor of the land. Moroni, whose army was suffering because of inadequate support from the government, wrote to Pahoran “by the way of condemnation” and accused him and his fellow leaders of thoughtlessness, slothfulness, neglect, and even being traitors.

Pahoran easily might have resented Moroni and his inaccurate allegations, but he did not. He responded compassionately and described a rebellion against the government about which Moroni was not aware. And then Pahoran declared:

“Behold, I say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. …

“… In your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.”

What are some characteristics of Pahoran?

  • Meek, wise
  • Patient- ruled like a parent and treated Moroni like he knew him, like a friend
  • Had an understanding heart- realized what Moroni was trying to say

What do you think explains Pahoran’s measured reply to Moroni’s accusations?

  • Pahoran trusted Moroni’s military prowess.
  • Instead of being defensive, he used Moroni’s need for action to guide the war efforts, which ultimately ended the war.
  • Pahoran tried to see things from Moroni’s point of view and validated his concerns.

**Insight from Elder Bednar, “Pahoran was blessed with perspective and strong self-restraint to act rather than react as he explained to Moroni the challenges arising from a rebellion against the government.”

Example #3. President Russell M. Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring

“In general conference six months ago, President Russell M. Nelson described his response to President Thomas S. Monson’s invitation to study, ponder, and apply the truths contained in the Book of Mormon. He said: “I have tried to follow his counsel. Among other things, I’ve made lists of what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, what it refutes, what it fulfills, what it clarifies, and what it reveals.Looking at the Book of Mormon through these lenses has been an insightful and inspiring exercise! I recommend it to each of you.”

President Henry B. Eyring likewise emphasized the importance in his life of President Monson’s request. He observed:

“I have read the Book of Mormon every day for more than 50 years. So perhaps I could have reasonably thought that President Monson’s words were for someone else. Yet, like many of you, I felt the prophet’s encouragement and his promise invite me to make a greater effort. …

“The happy result for me, and for many of you, has been what the prophet promised.”

What are some characteristics of President Nelson and President Eyring?

  • Humility
  • Obedient
  • Willing to follow the prophet
  • Dedication
  • Teachable, want to keep growing even though they are apostles
  • Really studied it instead of just reading
  • Great faith

What do you think explains the immediate and heartfelt responses to President Monson’s invitation by these two leaders of the Lord’s Church?

  • They really love and respect the prophet.
  • They already have a habit of obedience.
  • They have the Spirit with them.

**Insight from Elder Bednar, “President Nelson and President Eyring righteously and rapidly responded to President Monson’s encouragement to read and study the Book of Mormon. Though both men were serving in important and visible Church positions and had studied the scriptures extensively for decades, they demonstrated in their responses no hesitation or sense of self-importance.”

Example #4. Jesus Christ- The Master as an Example of Meekness

“Please notice the characteristic the Lord used to describe Himself in the following scripture: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Instructively, the Savior chose to emphasize meekness from among all the attributes and virtues He potentially could have selected.

The most majestic and meaningful examples of meekness are found in the life of the Savior Himself.

The Great Redeemer, who “descended below all things” and suffered, bled, and died “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” tenderly washed the dusty feet of His disciples. Such meekness is a hallmark characteristic of the Lord as a servant and leader.

Jesus provides the ultimate example of righteous responsiveness and willing submission as He suffered intense agony in Gethsemane.

“And when he was at the place, he said unto [His disciples], Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

“And he … kneeled down, and prayed,

“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

The Savior’s meekness in this eternally essential and excruciating experience demonstrates for each of us the importance of putting the wisdom of God above our own wisdom.

The consistency of the Lord’s willing submission and strong self-restraint is both awe-inspiring and instructive for us all. As an armed company of temple guardsmen and Roman soldiers arrived at Gethsemane to seize and arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. The Savior then touched the servant’s ear and healed him. Please note that He reached out and blessed His potential captor using the same heavenly power that could have prevented Him from being captured and crucified.

Consider also how the Master was accused and condemned before Pilate to be crucified. Jesus had declared during His betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Yet the “Eternal Judge of both quick and dead” paradoxically was judged before a temporary political appointee. “And [Jesus] answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.” The Savior’s meekness is evidenced in His disciplined response, strong restraint, and unwillingness to exert His infinite power for personal benefit.”

What does Christ’s example of meekness teach us about its importance?

  • Not to give up- the Savior went through the ultimate sacrifice, He was humble and teachable and showed us the way
  • We can overcome all trials

How can we benefit from developing Christlike meekness?

  • Everyone goes through trials and meekness will make us stronger
  • Strong restraint and disciplined responses.
  • We can overcome anything.
  • Instead of asking, ‘why me?’ we will ask, ‘why not me?’
  • Whole families benefit when going through trials with meekness.

**Insight from Elder Bednar, “Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint.”

Elder Bednar stated, “I am not suggesting that the spiritually strong responses of Amulek, Pahoran, President Nelson, and President Eyring are explained by only one Christlike quality. Certainly, many interrelated attributes and experiences led to the spiritual maturity reflected in the lives of these four noble servants. But the Savior and His prophets have highlighted an essential quality that all of us need to more fully understand and strive to incorporate into our lives.”

So, in order to do that, I want to give what Elder Bednar defines as meekness. It’s one of those words that you might feel like you know, or at least I did, and then I read his definition and I understood it a little more. (Definition of what meekness is and what it isn’t was displayed on the chalkboard.)

Meekness

Something really important that Elder Bednar said was, “Mormon identifies meekness as the foundation from which all spiritual capacities and gifts arise.” So, that tells me that this is the first attribute that we need to work on and master.

How can we obtain Christlike meekness?

Elder Bednar said, “Meekness is an attribute developed through desire, the righteous exercise of moral agency, and striving always to retain a remission of our sins. It also is a spiritual gift for which we appropriately can seek. We should remember, however, the purposes for which such a blessing is given, even to benefit and serve the children of God. As we come unto and follow the Savior, we increasingly and incrementally are enabled to become more like Him. We are empowered by the Spirit with disciplined self-restraint and a settled and calm demeanor. Thus, meek is what we become as disciples of the Master and not just something we do.

Any thoughts about this so far, about the examples we have read or personal experiences?

  • For me it can be hard when I’m mentally processing what my reaction will be to a certain situation. I often wonder if it’s going to be weak, passive, and timid or is it meekness? I really, really struggle with that because meekness, and maybe I’m misunderstanding how meekness is, but it’s hard to be meek and not come across as you just don’t care, or you’re not thinking about it and you’re being weak.

Does anyone have a comment on what she just said?

  • I kind of struggle with that also. I think it’s important for us to remember how the Savior was. He was strong, He was brave, He was proactive. If people were wrong, He called them out, but He wasn’t overbearing.
  • I think that the definition of meekness (from Elder Bednar) reminds me a lot of charity and the definition of charity. I think if we approach people with love and charity then it’s part of being meek.
  • I think often times the same course of action could be coming from a place of timidness or passivity as coming from a place of meekness. I think it has more to do with why you’re doing it. If someone approached me and was very rude and I was afraid then that’s me being passive. If someone approached me and was very rude and I thought, ‘you know what- I don’t need to respond because I know that Savior loves me and you’re a child of God’ and I walk away then that’s me being meek. It’s the why, it’s my intention, am I following the Spirit or am I afraid of someone’s response? If I choose to call somebody out, is it because I know better or is it because the SPirit has inspired me to testify?
  • I really like the first part of that quote that said, “Meekness is an attribute developed through desire…” That’s something that if we really want it, then we have to work for it. We have to take some situations and look back and think, ‘I didn’t handle that the way I want to’ and then think, ‘how can I do that better in these situations?’ In our group, when we were talking I thought about how I’ve gotten older and wiser and how in the past I made mistakes and jumped to anger instead of listening and learning about others situations. Trying to look at it from their perspective and trying to understand better. So, learning and growing and having the desire is part of growing up figuring out how to be a better person.

That’s like what Elder Bednar said about the four men that they had, “spiritual maturity.” I think that life experience plays into our development. As we make mistakes and learn from them.

  • I think it’s not only something hard to develop in ourselves, but at some point I want to try to teach my children. I think the internet culture is to jump to conclusions, to troll people and just point out flaws. People get brave on the internet because it’s not personal. It’s not one on one. I try to come up with examples when they (my kids) are struggling with something and say, would you say that if they were standing in front of you? Does that person even know you ? So, don’t let that bother you.

What can we do this week to help us develop or exercise meekness?

  • I think that for me, I’m going to take a picture of this (the definition on the chalkboard) and in my morning prayers I’m going to ask for specific help. Because on my own throughout the day, I get stressed and my reactions might not be good, but I know for me if I pray for something specific in the morning, then it’s a lot easier to recognize that throughout the day.
  • I have a big issue with being judgmental instead of trying to understand people. So I want to make an effort to be understanding because we don’t know what’s going on with people’s minds. So, try to pause in the situation and try to be understanding of the other person and the situation.
  • I’m really good at observing people and situations throughout the day and then at night when I wind down I reflect and wonder why someone said this or did that. I think sometimes I am very guilty of using my husband as a sounding board to try and figure out things that happened in the day and last night I was talking to him and I don’t know that that’s always the most productive conversations. Then I thought, maybe I need to go to the Lord first and let the Lord be my sounding board. To pray before I start going down a trail that isn’t very productive. If I have the Spirit with me then that will help more of my conversations and help me to be not so judgmental or different things like that.

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Start the day with a prayer asking for help in exercising or developing meekness during that day.
  • Throughout the day we will pause and try to take the other person’s perspective or the situation to help us respond with meekness.
  • At the end of the day, re-evaluate situations or interactions we’ve had and take them to the Lord in prayer.

NEXT WEEK: Ministering Topic- “God wants all of His children to be watched over and cared for.”

Highlights from Sunday’s topic discussion, “Am I a Child of God” by Elder Brian K. Taylor – 7/8/18

child of God

Throughout this lesson, we’re going to think- ‘who am I?’ My sister was not able to have children, but they were able to adopt two beautiful children- a boy and a girl. They were newborns when they were adopted. My niece is now 36 years old and they both grew up knowing they were adopted, but now she is curious about who her birth parents are. Back when she was born, the church’s adoption agency did not provide that type of information to the adoptive parents. A few years ago, she started looking for her birth parents and found that her birth mother had passed away, but she continued to look for her birth dad. She wanted to know things about him, like what his character was like and his personality or traits. She was searching to find who and where she came from. That got me to thinking- how much do we know and search for where we come from?

Do we know the characteristics of our Heavenly Father? There is a quote by Boyd. K. Packer, “His words are plain and precious. You are a child of God. He is the Father of your spirit. Spiritually, you are of noble birth. The offspring of the King of Heaven.”

(Displayed her pedigree chart)

“However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line.” A single line that says you are a child of God.

Hopefully, we have all had good relationships with our earthly fathers, but we also need to have a great relationship with our Heavenly Father. Who gets in our way sometimes? Satan.

Elder Taylor said,This great war over divine identity rages fiercely as Satan’s proliferating arsenal aims to destroy our belief in and knowledge of our relationship with God.”

What are some ways Satan does this?

  • I think when we compare ourselves, it becomes easy to put ourselves down. Sometimes, I think he twists things and instead of seeing the gifts that God has given us, we only see the gifts that we haven’t been given.

“Thankfully, we have been blessed with clear vision and understanding of our true identity from the beginning: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”7 and His living prophets proclaim, “Each [human being] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”8

[The Young Women (Laurels) joined us for this meeting and at this point recited their theme]

WE ARE DAUGHTERS of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. WE WILL “STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue

WE BELIEVE as we come to accept and act upon these values, WE WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

I am sure in Young Women’s class you are taught about your divine identity. Also, in The Family: A Proclamation to the World it says, “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

We know it is true. It came from our prophet President Gordon B. Hinkley.

How does knowing that you are a child of God influence your thoughts, words, and actions?

  • I think it helps me to feel that I have a purpose in life. I’m not just here to do what I want. Through my choices, I can help someone else. I love the quote that says, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I try to remember that because if you don’t know where you are and what you believe then how will you have purpose and get to where you need to go?
  • Dallin H. Oaks said that ethics or philosophy isn’t strong enough to hold us accountable in our temptations or hard times, but a sense of accountability to God and knowing that He is our Father gives us strength. It can create a strong bond and that will help us hold true, to sacrifice and serve, deny ourselves of things that we should avoid, and do hard things or scary things. So one benefit to society of religious freedom is to have enough citizens that have this feeling of a relationship with God that we can willingly hold society together.
  • Another statement I once heard is- if we could see ourselves as God sees us, then we would rise up right then and we would never be the same again.
  • Sometimes when I am engaging in negative self-talk, I’m able to catch myself and remember that I’m putting down one of Heavenly Father’s creations and I don’t think He likes it when we do that. It’s an insult to Him.
  • Whenever my kids get down on themselves, and I need to be better at saying this to myself too, I like to remind them that God doesn’t make mistakes and each one of us were created with a purpose and we are perfect to Him. Whether we can see it or not, God does not make mistakes.
  • I sometimes struggle with looking at other people and remember that they are also children of God and that they also have a divine quality and purpose and no matter how much they drive me crazy they are still that type of person and I need to be better at seeing that.

True. Even those that do bad things or things that we don’t agree with, they are still our brothers and sisters.

  • There are so many benefits to knowing our divine identity, but so many people don’t. When we understand, when a person understands that every life is a child of God, perhaps there would be more pause when considering to end those lives for medical reasons- before birth or at the other end of life. To let God be in charge of His domain. There’s a lot of medical abortions and I know it is sometimes a prayerful decision, but there are plenty of children that could have had a life of purpose for them or the family; there are people who will adopt babies with malformed bodies or brains that bring such blessings. Some in the medical community are recommending termination because they don’t understand that every life is a child of God.
  • I think that knowing I am a child of God, that I am a daughter of God, it gives me hope when I feel helpless or hopeless. It reminds me that there is a greater plan that I don’t know all of right now. That there are things that are supposed to happen, that will happen, that I don’t have to understand, but knowing that through God, I can do anything that is righteous. I can overcome any challenge that comes my way if I ask for His help. I don’t know how people who don’t have God in their life have hope. I don’t even know where I would look for it outside of God. I’m really grateful for that.

In Elder Taylor’s talk, he told a story about his friend Jen and when she was a teenager, she was in a serious car accident and as a result the other driver died. The story goes on, “Someone lost their mom, and it was my fault,” she says. Jen, who just days before stood and recited, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us,”13 now questioned, “How could He love me?” The physical suffering passed,” she says, “but I didn’t think I would ever heal from the emotional and spiritual wounds.”

In order to survive, Jen hid her feelings deeply, becoming distant and numb. After a year, when she was finally able to talk about the accident, an inspired counselor invited her to write the phrase “I am a child of God” and say it 10 times daily.

“Writing the words was easy,” she recalls, “but I couldn’t speak them. … That made it real, and I didn’t really believe God wanted me as His child. I would curl up and cry.”

After several months, Jen was finally able to complete the task every day. “I poured out my whole soul,” she says, “pleading with God. … Then I began to believe the words.” This belief allowed the Savior to begin mending her wounded soul. The Book of Mormon brought comfort and courage in His Atonement.14

“Christ felt my pains, my sorrows, my guilt,” Jen concludes. “I felt God’s pure love and had never experienced anything so powerful! Knowing I am a child of God is the most powerful knowledge I possess!”

How can each of us experience the power of understanding our divine identity? What are some helps along the way that can help us with this?

  • This week I decided that each day I would try to testify to someone that they were a child of God because if I testify it to them, then I was also teaching it or reminding myself. And I had some really cool experiences, even when it was just to my kids at night and telling them that they were a child of God. All of the things that God has for us, and that really spoke to me and I got to get to know some people and hear some conversion stories and just in little ways, but it was a good reminder to me and to feel that feel that power.

Our patriarchal blessings are also a good way for us to know our divine identity.

President Russell M. Nelson testified, “Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His beloved Son.” That’s how we learn more about Heavenly Father by learning more about Jesus Christ. “The Savior has helped us come to know the Father. Being the expressed image of His Father, Jesus taught, ‘the son can do nothing of himself but what he see the father do.’ Christ’s every word and deed reveals the true nature of God and our relationship to Him.”

I was talking to a friend the other day and she mentioned that she had been in a car accident. It was interesting that something in the back of her truck had fallen out and she went back and it landed in the middle of the two lane road. She couldn’t believe that all the cars going by never knocked it over. She thought she’d just drive up to it and open her door to pick it up. But then she decided to pull off to the side of the road and the guy behind her didn’t see what she was doing and ran right into the back of her. She had a lot of guilt over that incident and wondered why she chose to do the things she did and couldn’t get over feeling the whole thing was her fault. She wondered why things had to happen the way they did. Finally, she had her son give her a blessing and during it, he kept pausing, but finally said, ‘you will know in the hereafter why things have happened the way they did.’ It was a real testimony builder for her that Heavenly Father knew her and knew her thoughts.

To me that was another testimony that the Lord knows us and He loves each of us.

In Primary this year the theme is, “I am a Child of God” so all year the sharing times have been geared around this topic. The General Primary President  said, “Our children deserve to understand their divine identity from the very beginning. It will be great to have them learn their relationship to Heavenly Father and to have a better understanding of who they are, who He is, and who the Savior is.” We know children learn from a young age, so we should start teaching them this while they are young.

Does any one have any experiences or ways that you have been teaching your children or have taught or even with your grandchildren?

  • When I was 18 I was called to be the primary chorister and the primary president had me go each week into the nursery and do singing time with them. It was fine because I was young and had the energy, but I remember whining a little bit to my mom that the kids just kind of sit there and they don’t do a lot and their not old enough to learn the words. So, I was complaining a bit about what was the purpose of even going into the nursery. Then a few months later, I was released and called into the primary presidency and while in the presidency I paid more attention to the transition of those nursery kids coming into Sunbeams. Maybe they didn’t know all the words, but they knew the songs. When the piano would start, they would get excited because it was a song that they knew. It was such a powerful thing to me. My son isn’t old enough to talk, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to talk to him. If we never talk to him, how will he ever learn. I think about that with my kids- if there’s something important that I want them to learn, then I start in the beginning. You don’t wait until they are old enough because they’ll never be ready if you haven’t put in that preparation and time.
  • We’ve been trying to get our kids into the habit of morning prayers. The night prayers are well established, but in the morning they just get up and their running around and want to go play outside. We usually hear them coming down the hall so we’ll quickly get down on our knees by our bed. I remember one time I could hear my son coming, he wakes up at 6:30 every morning, and he’s a preteen so you can’t always tell him what to do, but I thought teaching by example is probably going to be more effective. So I was kneeling when he got to my room, and I could feel him staring at me and I wanted to peek, but I felt I should keep praying, so I said a long prayer and when I opened my eyes, he was kneeling beside me praying. It’s hard to get them in the habit everyday, but I think leading by example is a good way.
  • I remember my grandfather giving prayers and I would peek every once in a while because I was sure the Savior was right there. That’s the way he prayed.

I think it helps when we talk more about Christ and acknowledging Him more. I had a friend once who wasn’t a member and a lot of times in the rodeo world they use the cross symbol and he asked me once, ‘how come Mormons don’t talk a lot about Christ?’ I answered that maybe some of us don’t or as much as we should.

I think if we teach them gratitude, to count their blessings, the more they will recognize God in their lives. Maybe when we’ve had a special or spiritual moment we can talk to them about it and be a good example.

  • My kids are still little, but I was in Young Womens in my past two wards and something that I noticed and I think it’s getting worse, and my generation does it too- the girls would talk down on themselves so much. They would talk about how fat they were and I did that too when I was in high school, but I look back now and wish I were as “fat” as I was then, or as “fat” as I thought I was! I just want to establish with my kids a self-love because when you hear others talk down about themselves, in high school or college, you kind of find things wrong with yourself. So that’s something that I want to consciously instill- to love yourself, because it’s really hard to love others when you don’t love yourself. I found that was true with my young women. The ones that were really insecure had a hard time with other girls because they didn’t love who they were. I want my kids to look to me as an example and know that we’re not perfect and Heavenly Father made us and He loves us. Someone said it once, if you make a batch of cookies and give them to someone would they tell you how terrible they are? It’s kind of like Heavenly Father made us and we tell Him that He did a terrible job? Heavenly Father didn’t make any junk!
  • Growing up, my mom was always dieting or off the wagon. She has always been conscientious about her weight and she’s had some health issues and she’ll admit wasn’t just pure vanity, but some of it was. So, I decided that I wanted to be more careful with my children and we don’t use certain terms and when we diet, we’re trying to get “healthy” not losing weight. But our kids pick up on the unsaid things. My daughter once said to me, ‘Mom you always talk about how you don’t fit into your clothes anymore, but mom you and I are almost the same size. If you don’t fit into your old clothes and we’re almost the same size now, what does that mean?’ Even if you’re not saying certain things, your kids will pick up on it. If I’m not happy with who I am, if I’m not comfortable with me, then my kids can’t be comfortable with themselves. I told her that she looks a lot like me, but she’s not me. You are the perfect you and I am trying to be the perfect me. You work on meeting your potential and I’m working on mine. It is a hard thing as a mom to teach your children that Heavenly Father loves them exactly as they are and we can do that by letting them know that Heavenly Father loves us too exactly the way we are.

Lynn Robbins stated, “Our children are God’s children. That is their true identity and potential. His plan is to help His children overcome mistakes and misdeeds and to progress as He is.”

Elder Taylor also said, “I invite each of us to seek God and His Beloved Son. “Nowhere,” President Nelson directed, “are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon.”27 Open its pages and learn that God does “all things for [our] welfare and happiness”;28 that He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness”;29 and that “all are alike unto [Him].”30 When you feel hurt, lost, scared, upset, sad, hungry, or hopelessly abandoned in life’s extremities31—open the Book of Mormon, and you will come to know that “[God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so].”32

This made me think of the young women, when you graduate and whether you go to work, college, whatever you do in your life, that as you move away from home and on your own, you’ll have your loving Heavenly Father to help you through different times in your life, as He is for all of us.

I saw this saying, “Be true to your identity” and I thought that was good. I’m going to finish with one of my favorite speakers, it’s called “Our True Identity” by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

“God has given again in these latter days the truth about where we came from. Why we’re here, and where we are going. Much of the confusion we experience in this life comes from simply not understanding who we are.

One of the most beloved storytellers of all time was the Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson. In one of his stories, The Ugly Duckling, a mother duck discovers that one off her newly hatched chicks is unusually large and very ugly. The other ducklings cannot leave the ugly child alone. They punish him mercilessly.

The ugly duckling decides it would be better for everyone if he left his family and so he ran away. Then one day he sees flying overhead a flock of majestic birds. He takes flight and follows them to a beautiful lake. The ugly duckling looks into the water and sees a reflection of a magnificent swan. The ugly duckling realizes that the reflection is his own. He has discovered who he really is.

Think of where you come from. You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe. He loves you with an infinite love. He wants the best for you. This knowledge changes everything. It changes your present, it can change your future, and it can change the world. If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us, our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest souls with the light and love of God.

Of course there will always be voices telling you that you’re foolish to believe that you’re swans. Insisting that you’re but ugly ducklings. And that you can’t expect to become anything else. But you know better. You are no ordinary beings. You are glorious and eternal.

I plead with you, just look into the water and see your true reflection. It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self doubts and recognize who you truly are; glorious sons and daughters of Almighty God. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  •    Determine how you can teach the children in your realm of influence about their divine identity.
  •    Find ways to replace negative self-talk with uplifting messages that reaffirm you are a daughter of God.

NEXT WEEK: “Meek and Lowly of Heart” by Elder David A. Bednar

 

Highlights from Sunday’s Council Meeting topic: “How can knowing our divine identity strengthen our testimonies of the Lord and His plan for us?” – 7/1/18

Daughter of God

My dad is from Franklin, Idaho and he comes from hard-working stock.They can do anything. Anything that needs to be done, anything that needs to be lifted, anything that needs to be grown, they are those kind of people. My mother comes from a very highly educated, very “A” type of personality family up in Canada. Growing up, whenever I struggled, my mother would say, ‘you are a (family surname)’ and that’s when I knew that I’d have to figure it out because they can do anything. They can think through anything, they can represent themselves well, they’re eloquent, they are smart, they are ambitious. So I grew up with this Idaho farm, hard-working and this very intelligent, very well-spoken group and my mom embodied all of it. She was amazing. I remember sitting down for Sunday dinner and we had to eat at least two of the vegetable options, so she offered more than two every time. We were busy- we had swimming lessons, I remember a paint brush and a bucket of water and she’d have us paint the house and it was so much fun. We didn’t drink soda, but she’d put colored water in soda bottles and we’d take them on picnics. All summer we ran and all school year we learned. We grew and we learned and it was such a good experience and so much fun.

Now I’m a mom and it’s hard to even serve a vegetable. I don’t like them, but I’m trying to teach my kids to love them and I try to eat enough that they don’t notice! But whenever I struggle, I think about who I came from because my mom and dad can do everything. I hear that little voice in my head and think ‘I can sleep in today’ and then I think ‘(surnames) don’t sleep in.’ I hear these voices in my head telling me who I can be because that’s who I came from and I’m so blessed to come from that.

But in addition to coming from earthly parents, we also come from heavenly parents. As cool as my parents are, and as much potential that I have from them, I’ve got a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

I want to talk today about our divine identities and what that means to us. I’m going to start with an excerpt from the General Conference talk, “Value beyond Measure” by Joy D. Jones.

Renu, the first of five sisters to join the Church, shared these thoughts: Before I started investigating the Church, I didn’t really feel that I was very special. I was just one of many people, and my society and culture didn’t really teach me that I had any value as an individual. When I learned the gospel and learned that I was a daughter of our Heavenly Father, it changed me. Suddenly I felt so special—God had actually created me and had created my soul and my life with value and purpose.

“Before I had the gospel in my life, I was always trying to prove to others that I was someone special. But when I learned the truth, that I am a daughter of God, I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I knew that I was special. … Don’t ever think that you are nothing.”

President Thomas S. Monson said it perfectly when he quoted these words: “The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God.”

What do you think about when you hear those words? When have you had it testified to you that you are a daughter of God?

  • About every other day! I do know that I came from hardy stock and I thought I could do everything and I found out to those things I had to learn and I had to grow. I knew very quickly that I couldn’t do those things by myself. I’m thankful for my parents who taught me to pray and seek guidance. I knew that Heavenly Father loved me, every other day, if not ten times a day!
  • I think it’s interesting to hear the story of the girl who didn’t know and see how it was such a huge impact for her and changed everything about her life. I think when we grow up and hear it all the time I think sometimes there’s the danger of just taking it for granted. I don’t know if we need to seek or search to really understand what that means. But here is a danger in not knowing what that means.
  • It’s really important to the adversary for us to believe that we don’t have heavenly parents. That’s something he works very hard on.

One of the conference talks I read used the example of the adversary talking to Moses and he said, ‘Moses, son of man’ and Moses said, ‘No, I am a son of God.’ It’s one of the ploys the adversary uses to demean us, to make us not realize our worth.

I’ve asked a couple of sisters to share with you a time when they felt like they were a daughter of God or when they experienced a testimony of that.

Sister 1

When you think about it, I think it’s one of those concepts can be difficult- ‘I am a daughter of God, wait, what?’ It’s almost beyond what you can imagine. Satan wants so badly for us to not believe that. That’s where his power lies. Heavenly Father wants us to believe and we have to choose what we will believe. The first thing that came to mind [on this subject] was my father. He was a very tall, rough, farmer/ranch, cowboy type and yet, he taught me unconditional love. If I fell, my dad caught me. If I made a mistake, he would turn to me and point me in the right direction. I don’t remember him ever raising his voice. He taught me what unconditional love was. And when I was very young, someone asked me, ‘what do you think God is like?’ and I said, ‘I think he’s like my dad.’ Early on, I thought, oh wait, I also have a Father in Heaven and I’m his daughter and He loves me. The second thing I thought of was, we moved here in 2007 and was able to be here for the dedication of the Brigham CIty temple. I was privileged to work in the temple when it opened and if you want to know who you are, and we all have to or we won’t make it, go to the temple! The more time you spend there, quietly, and repeating those ordinances over and over, you get such conformation, such knowledge, such forgiveness, all those things that help us feel worthy to be called His daughter. You’ll find yourself there. It’s a miraculous place. It’s like a little glimpse into heaven. The last thing is, I have house full of grandchildren for the month, and I get to put them to bed every night. Some days they are a little naughty, but I go down and we kneel and pray. I sing this silly little song to them and it’s just about what happened during the day and they are so innocent. And when you look into their eyes you see heaven. I think to myself, ‘this is a child of God’ and I have got to help them get home. It doesn’t matter what happened during the day, it doesn’t matter what my house looks like, my dad helped me seek heaven and gave me the vision that I might make it and now I have the chance to do it with these little kids. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we lifted each other up and this room is full of people that have blessed my life and helped to convince me I am a daughter of God and there is hope for me.

Sister 2

When I thought about this, when it really hit me that the Lord really knows me and that relationship that I can have with Him is a blessing. At first, I thought it was overwhelming and then as the youth were going to go back and read it and see the things that have come true that are in there- He knows me, He knows everything about me. I think the key to the whole thing is our patriarchal blessing.  It’s all based on us, it’s all based on how we live our lives. We want to go to the temple, we want to minister to others, we want to do all of these things that we can to keep that relationship strong with our Heavenly Father. So, those blessings we are given in the patriarchal blessing will come to pass. It puts a lot on our shoulders, but to also be thankful for repentance, for the Atonement. We go along this path and they say, ‘yes, this is true and straight path’ and it is, but there might be a little cul de sac that you have to go up and then repent and then come back and get back on the path and keep going. But the Lord is always there. You can always feel Him. Women have a tendency to struggle with feeling that we should be up here, but we’re down here. Self-esteem is a really big struggle and something I saw that helped me was this saying next to a picture of Christ that said, ‘The greatest gift I can give to you is if you could see yourself the way I do.’ I think we have to know that he does love us. We are His daughters and we don’t need to think that we are way down here, because we can be up there because He knows our potential.

  • I had a friend who went through a really hard time and she gave me this piece of advice that I love- someone asked her, ‘what does a puppy grow up to become, what does a prince or princess grow up to be, and what does a child of God grow up to be?’ There’s so much power in knowing who we are and who we can become and because of that, what we’re meant for, how loved we are, just because of that.
  • The adversary tries so hard to make us forget and deny that we are important. We’re small, but we’re important because we’re becoming something so important. That makes us important right now, even though we might be just ordinary.

My kid’s ages vary, my oldest is 13, next is an 8 year old, and then a 5 year old. For a long time the 13 year old was the most mature and she was the only one who knew how to read and she was the only one who could do math, but that was ok because she was benevolent and kind and she would help the others. Now my 8 year old is getting kind of big for his britches. He is pretty excited that he can read and he feels like finally he can wield this knowledge over my youngest. It drives me nuts, because he’s not being kind about it, he’s not helping her. He just wants to prove he is smarter than her. I’m not the perfect mother and I’m not always kind, but I’ll turn to him and say, ‘well, there’s a lot you don’t know too buddy.’ [laughter] I think about the way that they interact and they are my children and I love my little boy so much. He is so sweet, but when he messes with my little girl, that is not the way to make mom happy. I see all of these times that the Lord wants us to feel powerful, He wants us to feel love for one another because it hurts Him when we hurt each other. It hurts Him when He sees us be unkind and whether we’re being unkind to a neighbor, or a child, or grandchild, or ourselves, He wants us to see that potential. He wants us to feel the love He has for us.

Because we know that we are daughters of God, what is His plan for us? Why are we here?

  • That we can become like Him. That’s the goal, I don’t think that’s the end, but that’s goal.

We don’t all follow the path exactly because we all have different things we need to learn along the way.

Neill F. Marriott said, “The Lord said to ancient Israel, and He says to us, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”1 Speaking as would the Father, He also says to us, “Thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.”2 Do we trust Him enough to abide in Him and walk with Him?

We are here on this earth to learn and grow, and the most important learning and growing will come from our covenant connection to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. From our faithful relationship with Them come godly knowledge, love, power, and capacity to serve.”

How many of you with children, go home and think, ‘boy, I hope my kids don’t call me today’ or, ‘I really wish my kids wouldn’t come by so often’ or think that you don’t want to know what’s going on in their lives and that you don’t want to help them? That’s not the way it works. Just like our Father in heaven, He wants to pick us up when we fall. He wants to be able to redirect our path. He wants to be able to be there, but not so He can just be done with us. He wants us to be like Him so we can be with Him. Isn’t that amazing that the purpose of this life isn’t to check off the marks so we can say we learned it, we did it, but the purpose of this life is to be able to be with Him.

  • And that adds to His glory.

He wants us to make that effort, He wants us to strive because He loves us so much. He’s willing to pick us up, He’s willing to forgive us of our mistakes and the times we’ve been unkind to ourselves or those around us. He’s willing to teach us again and again. I think of all the stupid mistakes that I’ve made in my life and Heavenly Father just tells me, ‘don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t think bad about yourself, don’t stay up all night cleaning your house because no one really cares, be kind to yourself.’ Instead of spending that 20 minutes sweeping my floor in case someone wants to eat off of it, I can spend that time reading a General Conference talk. I can get on my knees and feel that connection. The more we know Him, the more we seek Him out the more we’ll feel Him. He knows us. It’s not a matter of us trying to let Him know who we are, it’s a matter of us connecting with Him.

How can we, as sisters, be reminded of our divine identity? Are there things that we can do every day that’s going to help us remember who we are?

  • I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says, ‘You are a CHild of God.’
  • In thinking about our children, we know they are children of God (seeing parallels to our family)
  • Mine has always been reading the scriptures. I have yet to turn to the scriptures and actually have a desire to read, it doesn’t matter how much or little I read. Heavenly Father always puts something in there that helps me feel that He is thinking of me. I remember the first time I donated blood and that night I was reading the scriptures and I was reading verses about a woman with an issue of blood and I was like, ‘Heavenly Father knows that I gave blood today!’Little things like that if you look for it. Heavenly Father does think of me, He does send me those teeny tiny reminders.
  • Be still and pray. Be grateful for everything- this beautiful world, the birds chirping, the warmth of the sun.
  • When we know we are children of God, we need to spread the word. Yesterday we were out of town and I needed to run into the gas station. My husband came inside with me and I was glad he did. I was frightened. These people need to know they are a child of God. They would not act like this way if they knew. Missionary work will save the world if those people could know who they were.
  • Praying. I pray all day long. I’m so grateful for a mother who set a really good example of praying over anything and everything, anywhere and anytime. That’s one of my greatest strengths and helps me to remember who I am. Heavenly Father misses us and He wants to hear from us. He wants us to thank Him and tell Him about our day. He wants to know when we’re happy and when we’re sad. We just need to pray always.

How can knowing we are daughters of God help to increase our testimony or is tied to our testimony? I’ve asked a couple more sisters to share an experience on how that has strengthened their knowledge and their testimony.

Sister 3

I was trying to think of past experiences that had impact, but honestly when it comes right down to it, I feel like every day I kind of go through that. I feel like I am surrounded by amazing, talented women and I do tend to be one of those people that compare. I can think that I’m not at that level, I’m clear down here. I’m not talented in any way or amazing in any way and I think ‘I wish I could do more like that. I wish I could be more outgoing. I wish I could be more friendly. I wish I could be more interesting. I wish I could have this talent or that talent. I have to constantly remind myself to pray and read my scriptures to remind myself that there is something special about me. (We all know that there is.) Yeah, well I don’t feel that way. , but for me it’s a daily thing. I have to remind myself and that’s what helps me to keep going. It’s what keeps me there as a parent to my children and being a wife. Going out there when I serve and help at the school, anytime that I serve anywhere. That’s what keeps me going. (As you were talking, I just kept thinking- You’re amazing! There are lists of things that I could look at and say, wow. I think every one of us has at times felt less than and that’s not what the Lord wants us to feel. He wants us to improve, but not because we’re not good enough, but because He knows what we’re capable of.)

Sister 4

I have kind of felt the same as [Sister 3] you know? We as women do that. We tend to judge ourselves so critically. We have to remember what’s in our DNA – we are daughters of God. We are princesses. One thing that has helped me is as we work in the temple and everyone who has received their endowment, and if you haven’t been there in awhile- you need to go and and listen to the blessings that each and every one of us have been given or can be given. We are so special and we need to tell ourselves that and it will help our testimony. We are divine and we have to remember that and that will give us purpose and help us to know that we can go one and do these things and go through hard times. And deal with things that break our hearts and we can go on because He is there. When we can’t walk, He’ll carry us with that reminder that we are important to Him. Even though sometimes we feel alone, we are never alone. He is always there for us. That helps me. That helps my testimony to know He is real and He is there for us.

  • Something I’ve been contemplating, I took a lot of psychology classes to be a therapist as a career path before I had kids. Anyway, I read a lot of things about self-esteem, self-image, self-ego, all these concepts and worldly views of self-esteem and perception of what that is and as I have grown I have come to realize, the greatest way for us to know ourselves is by getting to know God. Studying His attributes. Study what our Father in Heaven does and who He is. The world has a gazillion self help programs that we can use to help boost ourselves and there’s checklists and tasks, all these things that we can do to create our own self-worth. But when we study God, and who He is, those divine natures and divine attributes start to blossom inside our own person. We won’t compare ourselves because we know we are linked to God in a very real, DNA manner. That helps us humbly testify of and know our self-worth without putting ourselves above others or comparing ourselves to others and putting ourselves down. I think we do both and the adversary wants us to do that and he wants to distract us in this world that, not only do we not know our gender identity, our worth, who we are as women and what our purpose is, but as we study and really come to know God we inadvertently come to know ourselves.

I work at my husband’s office one day a week and one of the papers the people coming in get is a medical checklist and it talks about family histories about medical conditions, so that he knows how to treat each person. Genetically, if we’re to know ourselves, it helps to know our background. We are daughters of God, an almighty being who created everything for us. That’s powerful. He wants us to come back to Him. We’re worth His time.

Sister 5

I was going along with what [Sister 1] said about her dad. We have a Heavenly Father and that we are His daughters. So you have to believe that in order to go from day to day. I thought about that and you just look at a newborn baby and we as mothers that have had that opportunity. What a privilege that is. There is a higher power and He does want what’s good for us. I don’t compare God to my earthly father, but a lot of his qualities- I just spent a month in another state with my dad who turned 97 and to have him still here and to go to him for counsel and advice, just like I can go to my Heavenly Father for greater things because I’m His daughter, and because I’m the only daughter that my dad has, we had that special bond. I look to him for advice and comfort as I look to my Heavenly Father for the same. I have been going through some things here lately that I need that peace and comfort both heavenly and earthly. I think as long as we believe that there is a Heavenly Father that we can talk to Him everyday, just like I talk to my dad everyday, that we will have that peace and comfort and answers and know that we are of worth and of value.

Our Heavenly Father does- He wants us to turn to HIm. He wants to help us. He has great things for each of us and if we’re not turning to Him and remembering, it’s us who misses out.

I don’t know how many of you know the Young Women’s theme, but as I was preparing, this just kept coming back to me. If you’d be willing, I’d love it if we can stand as Relief Society sisters and recite the Young Women’s theme.

WE ARE DAUGHTERS of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. WE WILL “STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue

WE BELIEVE as we come to accept and act upon these values, WE WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

As I read this theme, that is the goal . That theme kind of encompasses the whole lesson. We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.

  • How often does the world send us the message that we need to do more than be a mom. We need to do more, we need to do, even within our culture or our religious culture, of needing to do more or be more. Right there where they added “strengthen home and family” very prophetic. To teach our Young Women that these days. My daughter taught me something this week that – she told me when I was complaining, she said, ‘Mom, I don’t think you’re being very loyal to your husband when you speak about dad that way.’ I stopped. She stopped me right in my tracks. I think that we need to remember who we are and in the world that we have today, to remember that strengthening home and family is so important, if not the most important thing.

The phrase, ‘just a mom’ shouldn’t exist. I agree- the world tells us we’re not good enough in all sorts of ways.

  • I was on the phone with a good friend of mine and we were talking about our day and I mentioned the night and how both of my boys woke up and it was an awful night and I didn’t get any sleep, you know the usual. My friend responded to me, ‘Oh, that’s one of the reasons I’m not having any more kids.’ And it broke my heart that I influenced that. Just from my complaining about being a mom and then she said that and I thought, ‘how could I?’ How could I emphasize the difficult part of being a mom when I could be telling about all the good things that happen. How my son wanted me to stay and gave me a hug and said, ‘I love you mom’ and how wonderful that was. Instead I talked about how awful that was and how difficult and I regret that.

It is hard to change our mindset or our perspective, but instead of feeling bad, we can know that the Lord can take those burdens away. The more we focus on the bad, the harder it is. I know that Heavenly Father loves us, that we are important and the gifts He gave each of us are important and unique for us. My challenge to each of you this week would be to find a way to add something little to your day to remind you of who you are. Whether it’s singing ‘I am a Child of God’ while you wash your hair that’s ok because we don’t have to have big goals in order to have them be life-changing. Pick something little that will remind you of who you are.

Sister Jean B. Bingham said,Because of the power He gives us as we are obedient, we are able to become more than we ever could on our own. We may not understand completely how, but each of us who has felt faith in Christ increase has also received a greater understanding of our divine identity and purpose, leading us to make choices that are consistent with that knowledge.”

Action Plan for July:

  •    Find small ways to remind yourself that you are a daughter of God- pray, read scriptures, listen to hymns, etc.
  •    Pray for ways to uplift the sisters you minister to and remind them that they too are daughters of their Heavenly Father.

NEXT WEEK:  Please study the following talk, “Am I a Child of God?” by Brian K. Taylor (Apr 2018)

Highlights from Sunday’s Ministering Topic discussion: “Ministering is motivated by Christlike love.” – 6/24/18

youth-service-elderly-yardwork-880380-wallpaper

We’ve been doing ministering for a long time now, but I feel like they now want us to take it from our hearts and not so much from our heads. The two talks that I took my information from is the two talks given at conference when this program was announced- “Be With and Strengthen Them” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and “Ministering as the Savior Does” by Jean B. Bingham.

Sister Bingham said, “What a wonderful blessing to live in a time of continual revelation from God! As we look forward to and embrace the “restitution of all things,”1 which has and will come through the prophesied events of our time, we are being prepared for the Savior’s Second Coming. And what better way to prepare to meet Him than to strive to become like Him through lovingly ministering to one another!”

Does anyone else feel that when new changes are announced that you hear a clock in the back of your head- tick, tock, tick, tock? It could be just me!

  • One of my friends said to me the other day, ‘I’ve never been much of a religious person my whole life, but I can see the signs of the times and I think we all better get our stuff together!’
  • After conference, my 5 year old started praying ‘please bless that Jesus will come soon.’ I just feel like at 5 years old, he knows the signs of the times.

I remember one of the prophets said when he was praying that we are ready.

  • Another thing- it’s June and the wheat is almost ready to harvest. We used to harvest about the time of the fair (late August). The seasons are changing!

President Holland said, “[…] individually rising above any mechanical, function-without-feeling routine to the heartfelt discipleship articulated by the Savior at the conclusion of His earthly ministry. As He prepared to leave His still-innocent and somewhat-confused little band of followers, He did not list a dozen administrative steps they had to take or hand them a fistful of reports to be filled out in triplicate. No, He summarized their task in one fundamental commandment: “Love one another; as I have loved you. … By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

We have to rise above the “function-without-feeling” and follow the example of the Savior and love one another.

Let’s talk about what is Christlike love and we have the perfect scripture in Moroni 7:45-48

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

This is something we need to try and develop. Something that will help us in our ministering assignments. Looking through this scripture, let’s talk about some of the characteristics that you see.

Charity

  • Thinketh no evil
  • Kind
  • Not easily provoked
  • Not puffed up
  • Long suffering
  • Believeth all things
  • Hopeth all things
  • Endureth all things
  • Beareth all things
  • Rejoiceth not in iniquity, rejoiceth in the truth
  • Seeketh not her own (pride)
  • Envieth not

What stories can you share about people you have known or even from personal experience that relates to this?

  • There is a story I like its called The Peacegiver, it’s an amazing book and it talks about the story of Abigail in the Old Testament. She has her husband hire David to take care of his lands and to protect them from robbers and at the end of the harvest he was to pay David a cut from the harvest. David had a group of men protecting the land and when the harvest came, the guy was going to renege on the deal. Next was the feast and David was mad and the wife of the rich man knew that he was coming and she was very well respected by the people in her area, and she was like, ‘this isn’t right.’It wasn’t her sins it was her husband’s and sh took and gathered all she could and approached him ahead of her servants, which was not the normal way. She went up to David and she knelt down and she begged for forgiveness for her sins. She took upon herself her husbands sins. To me she ‘seeketh not her own’ she loved her husband and family and she saved the family. To me that was charity because she could’ve been mad at her husband, she would’ve been justified, but instead she was humble. She knew that by showing love and charity it would save her husband and saved David from doing something that the Lord wouldn’t want him to do. That Christlike love didn’t affect her pride she didn’t try to retaliate. She apologized and gave him an offering.
  • My younger sister taught me something when her husband had cancer and wasn’t doing well. She called me up to ask if she could help me with the wedding that we were preparing for. I told her we didn’t need help, but she didn’t end there- she asked me more specific questions and by the end of the conversation she committed to bringing cake. After the wedding, her husband died, but she still helped us.
  • This may be silly, but we’re obsessed with Trolls in our house right now, the movie. It creeps me out everytime we watch it, but it brings peace to the family because it makes our almost 3 year old happy! Anyway, I’ve watched this movie like a thousand times and after a while I started analyzing it for subtext and stuff.So there’s this maid who is in love with the king and her friend encourages her to tell him, but she can’t because of her position. So the friend says that she can change her looks etc. etc. to help her.  But she always has a reason or excuse as to why it won’t work. And it made me think about how I can sit around and come up with excuses, like it’s too hard, or I don’t have the energy, but they’re just negative voices in my head. I just need to have the friend’s voice in my head that comes up with the ideas that will help. It’s really easy to come up with a hundred excuses not to do something, but if we ‘hopeth all thing’ and ’endureth all things’ and ‘believeth all things’ then why not? Why not go tell the king that I’m in love with him [laughter]? But I can get up and make dinner for my family and I can clean my house and I can do all that needs to be done because it’s not that hard and doesn’t take that much time.
  • I was thinking about the ‘envieth not’ – my husband was at work and he was trying to negotiate a raise and a guy that he works with swooped in because he saw what my husband was doing and negotiated an amazing raise. I kind of felt like he stole my husband’s thunder and so I asked my husband- why not you? And he said ‘it’s not about me and good for him that he negotiated such a good raise. I’m not worried about me.’ I was like, man you’re such a good example!

These are some stories that Sister Bingham shared about members and young women ministering.

Example 1

“[…] one sister who moved far away from home when her husband started graduate school. With no working phone and a small baby to care for, she felt disoriented in the new location, totally lost and alone. Without advance notice, a Relief Society sister came to the door bringing a little pair of shoes for the baby, put the two of them into her car, and took them to find the grocery store. The grateful sister reported, “She was my lifeline!””

I think that sister was definitely prompted because that was something that she could do. Sometimes that’s the hardest part for me because I need a thing that I can do.

Example 2

“True ministering is illustrated by an older sister in Africa who was assigned to seek out a sister who had not attended Church meetings for a long time. When she went to the sister’s home, she found that the woman had been beaten and robbed, had very little to eat, and possessed no clothes that she felt were appropriate for Sunday Church meetings. The woman assigned to minister to her brought a listening ear, produce from her garden, scriptures to read, and friendship. The “missing” sister soon came back to church and now holds a calling because she knows she is loved and valued.”

Can you imagine showing up at someone’s door and finding this out? That would be kind of daunting, but she figured out something that she could do to help.

  • This story reminds me of my sister and she has been less active most of her life. She had been in a bad marriage, an abusive marriage and her husband actually left her and she had no job, she had no means, she had no car. She was in an apartment and my mom helped as much as my sister would accept help, but there was an older couple assigned as her home and visiting teachers and they didn’t care that my sister lived in a run down apartment in a scary part of the city, they didn’t care that she had a bunch of cats, they didn’t care that she didn’t come to church on Sundays or that she smoked. They never missed a month of visiting her and ministering to her, which this was years and years ago, before this ministering program was announced. She doesn’t go to church, but she reads her scriptures and she’s stopped smoking and they have never missed a month. They are her lifeline. She knows that she is important regardless what her circumstances are.

I think that’s so important that the person feels loved. It’s not the point to get that person to church or to get someone baptized, which is a great thing, but really it’s to share the love of Christ with others and care for them as Christ did.

  • I think that’s why they’re doing the ministering program because it’s not about the numbers – it’s about love and loving people for where they are and for who they are and not being so focused on the numbers.

Example 3

“A mother was diagnosed with cancer. Soon she began treatment, and immediately, the Relief Society sisters went to work, planning how to best help with meals, transportation to medical appointments, and other support. They visited her regularly, providing cheerful companionship. At the same time, the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum sprang into action. They provided labor in adding a remodeled bedroom and bathroom to make it easier to care for the sick sister. The young men lent their hands and backs to participate in that significant effort. And the young women got involved: they cheerfully arranged to faithfully walk the dog each day. As time passed, the ward continued their service, adding and adapting where necessary. It was clearly a labor of love, each member giving of him or herself, unitedly showing caring in individual ways that blessed not only the suffering sister but each member of her family.

After a valiant effort, the sister finally succumbed to the cancer and was laid to rest. Did the ward breathe a sigh of relief and consider the job well done and well over? No, the young women continue to walk the dog daily, the priesthood quorums continue to minister to the father and his family, and the Relief Society sisters continue to reach out in love to ascertain strengths and needs. Brothers and sisters, this is ministering—this is loving as the Savior does!”

To have a ward come together like that- I think that’s what it’s all about. Any other thoughts on that?

  • My mom had breast cancer when she was 40 years old. I was only in 6th grade and pretty young, but to see the ward come in and help take care of us. I was the only girl in the family so I had to help wash my mom. I remember going to her chemo treatments while I was in dance recitals and competitions and she would come to every one of them and she’d bring a big garbage bag to puke in. It amazed me that she was there every time. As a kid I thought that was cool, but now as a mom I wonder how did she do that? That is a huge example of Christlike love and coming together as a ward and family.

My sister-in law when through the same thing the last couple of years and she’s just so amazing. She had a party to shave her head and has made fun out of everything and it’s amazing. People came out of the woodwork to do little things and big things. It was amazing.

  • When I went to help a sister during chemo I’d tell the Relief Society president that we didn’t need more help, but invariably food would come and flowers. I know they weren’t assigned to her, but they came. We were so grateful especially when she felt so sick. It was so tough, but the prayers and those thoughtful acts brought her so much joy knowing others remembered and were thinking of her. It really helped her to get through it. It changed our lives to see the goodness of people.
  • I have an example from our ward. My grandparents live in the ward and this last Sunday was Father’s Day and my parents had taken my grandpa to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday came and no one stopped to visit my grandpa besides his home teachers. That night they came to our house for dinner and they let us know that none of their kids came but their home teachers did. That really made his day!
  • I’ve been thinking about this older couple in our ward. One afternoon they spent all day taking a sick sister in our ward to the doctor in another town and I know they do it all the time and have done so for years. And this sister has been through so much and I know other people in our ward have helped her, but after I took her home from an appointment I asked her if she wanted me to take her to the next appointment and she said she wanted this older couple to take her.

A couple of other examples they shared seem to be extreme ministering- if there was a DYI show on this it would be called, Extreme Ministering and it would show big outcomes, but I love what she said about learning from the Savior, “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to “count” as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others—as well as on ourselves. What did the Savior do? Through His supernal gifts of the Atonement and Resurrection […] “none other has had so profound an influence [on] all who have lived and who will yet live upon the earth.” But He also smiled at, talked with, walked with, listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave. He served family and friends, neighbors and strangers alike, and He invited acquaintances and loved ones to enjoy the rich blessings of His gospel. Those “simple” acts of service and love provide a template for our ministering today.”

So it doesn’t have to be big- just look at how a simple visit touched your grandpa. It doesn’t have to be huge. Keeping people in your prayers is important. It counts for a lot. I think it’s important to remember that even the Savior performed the most extreme ministering through his Atonement and Resurrection. His daily life was filled with simple things for anybody and everybody that he came in contact with.

One other thing I want us to consider is- How do we develop Christlike love for those we are assigned to minister?

  • For me, prayer has been huge. I don’t know everyone here, so I’ve prayed to know how to meet them and get to know them. How I can let them know that I’m there for them God knows them, I don’t know them.
  • I think it takes time. Anything we want like spiritual gifts or becoming friends, we need time to think about them. And doing something like dropping by is better than doing nothing. If we take time to pray about them and ponder then the Spirit can open our eyes to know.
  • I feel like we’ve been kind of ministering all these years, but we’re thinking about it differently now and we still have to have assignments because we have to make sure everyone is really going to get taken care of but I feel like with the terminology with ministering, for me if I see a need, I can let the Relief SOciety presidency know so that everyone is in the loop. But I can also fulfill the needs I see. I feel like it’s more about more than focusing on just the sisters I’m assigned to. I feel like it’s more unifying.
  • The thing that I have loved about it is that I’m assigned a laurel and how fun it is to work with her and to get her ideas. On our list is a mother with two teenage daughters and so we’re going to girl’s camp this week and we’ve been talking about what can we do at camp to minister to these two girls. It’s amazing the ideas and the wisdom that comes from these young women that we get use as partners.

They do have a fresh outlook!

One of the things Sister Bingham said was, “The Savior is our example in everything—not only in what we should do but why we should do it. “His life on earth was [an] invitation to us—to raise our sights a little higher, to forget our own problems and [to] reach out to others.” I think that’s a really important thing to do to develop charity and Christlike love and keep in tune with what ministering things you can do. We can work on ourselves and try to improve, like I can spend less time today playing Candy Crush [laughter] and we can raise our sights higher. We can forget our own problems and reach out to others.

  • Recently, I started doing indexing and I do Candy Crush while I’m watching TV, but I started doing indexing and reviewing them is really easy. It’s like Candy Crush!

“Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with His love.” Prayer is a great way to develop charity and Christlike love or attributes. Any other stories?

  • You were talking about that sister that had been robbed and I know that anyone that went there would be compassionate. That’s how women were created and we step in and help take care of things. I think it’s the little things every day in ministering that to me we need to focus on. If your neighbor’s kid gets hurt and needs stitches, your going to step in and help with the other kids – it’s the little things. And everybody has little things that they struggle with everyday.

You do need to pray and try to be a good friend because you can’t always see what’s happening. Just be there for them with those little things.

  • The other day the police were at my neighbors and you don’t really want to butt in and you don’t want to overstep. So I kept watching and the ambulance came and I had to go across the street because they have little kids and asked a fireman if there was something I could do to help the family. One of the children had fallen on the cement and things turned out ok, but in this world we worry about butting in, we want to help, but we don’t want to be too forward and it’s hard. You have to balance out between being nosy and just trying to help.
  • One day after I had my baby, I had a medical emergency and the ambulance came to my house and 30 seconds later a sister came over. And she was wearing scrubs because she had just come home from work which confused me. But then another neighbor came and it just showed how much people love. You can really feel their love. I think it’s good to butt in!
  • The little things really matter and we know that we’re supposed to have some contact now even though it’s different, but from experience I’ve had more than one home teacher or visiting teacher who once they were assigned to me stopped talking to me. I think it was partly because they might have felt guilty because they now have to talk to me. But if you’re not going to go to their house, at least when you see them at the grocery store or at church, acknowledge them and say sorry if you haven’t been in touch. We’ve all had times when we have felt guilty for not visiting, but I think we have to get over ourselves and remember it’s not about us, it’s about who we are ministering to.
  • I was just thinking how often have we thought, ‘oh someone else will take care of it’ so I think with this new program we don’t have to worry if someone else has gone to see that sister or made sure they are ok. We can do it anyway. Don’t assume that it’s taken care of.

Final thought from Sister Bingham, “After all is said and done, true ministering is accomplished one by one with love as the motivation. The value and merit and wonder of sincere ministering is that it truly changes lives! When our hearts are open and willing to love and include, encourage and comfort, the power of our ministering will be irresistible.”

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Pray daily to develop Christlike love.
  • Be observant of your neighbors and help when the Spirit prompts you.
  • Read more about ministering on the church website to gain a deeper feeling and understanding of the program.

NEXT WEEK: COUNCIL MTG Topic- “How can knowing our divine identity strengthen our testimonies of the Lord and His plan for us?”

 

Highlights from Sunday’s topic discussion, “Small and Simple Things” by President Dallin H. Oaks – 6/17/18

crack in sidewalk

Announcements:

June 19-22- Young Women camp

June 19 and June 22Cannery Assignment

July 17- Relief Society Activity “My Favorite Things”

Stake RS Humanitarian Project: Please double your Temple attendance and when possible, choose a name from the stake drawer which includes names that the youth have found and baptized. You can also participate by doing indexing work and/or posting family stories or photos online. Add a gem to the progress jar for each name or batch that you complete.
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“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord … bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Alma 37:7).

President Oaks said, “We need to be reminded that in total and over a significant period of time, these seemingly small things bring to pass great things.”

We can all be overwhelmed if we just look at the end and looking at what needs to be accomplished. We all want to get to the Celestial Kingdom in the end, and that can really become overwhelming. A number of years ago, I gave a talk at my daughter’s baptism and I set up blocks on the floor. I set the first one in front of her and had her stand on it. The next one was placed some distance ahead and I told her that was the Celestial Kingdom and she needed to get to that block without stepping on the floor between. Then I added the other steps that Heavenly Father has given to help us get from here to there- Baptism, the Holy Ghost, the Temple, etc.

In preparing this lesson, I thought about all of those things that Heavenly Father has given us, which are basically small things that He has provided for us to be able to get there.

“We are taught many small and simple things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. […] We need to be reminded [daily]. There have been many talks on this subject by General Authorities and by other respected teachers. The subject is so important that I feel to speak of it again.”

I remember when I was young, my parents would say ‘we’re going to sit down and watch conference’ and I’d wonder- why do they have to talk about the same things over and over again? I think we all know why.

Why do we have the same talks? Why do we learn about the same things over and over again?

  • That repetitive action is important. Because if you hear it once you may think- ok, I’ll do that later. But if it’s repeated then it’s a reminder that it’s on your list.
  • We forget.
  • We’re in different phases of our lives, doing different things, and we learn differently. Depending on what we’re dealing with in life, you may learn something different now than you would at another time.

It’s like reading the scriptures, I may have read something a year ago and it meant something to me then and then if I read it today, it might mean something different.

  • One of the prophets mentioned that they learned something new every time they went to the temple. If the prophet of the Lord who lives so close to the gospel can learn something new when he’s done it [an ordinance] how many thousands of times, certainly I can learn something new every time I hear the same talk.
  • Sometimes when we hear something that might not be new, but we create a new meaning, or a new connection, a new look upon the concept. Learning something new within a category or topic.
  • With the church there are always new members coming in that someone else may not have heard it before.
  • How many times do we tell our kids the same thing? Over and over and over. We keep telling them because we love them and we want the best for them. Our Savior loves us and He wants the best US, our best self. Sometimes we just need the simple reminders.

And when I hear something, I go and do it right away- so, I’m sure you’re just like me. 😊

  • Maybe if we were all doing what they teach us, the message might change.

In this talk, he mentions the crack in the sidewalk. I had a really good picture from his talk showing the sidewalk and I forgot it at home. I really appreciated the comment in Sunday school about keeping things simple for lessons- so we’re going to imagine the crack in the sidewalk.

He talked about the power of simple things. “I was reminded of the power of small and simple things over time by something I saw on a morning walk. Here is the picture I took. The thick and strong concrete sidewalk is cracking. Is this the result of some large and powerful thrust? No, this cracking is caused by the slow, small growth of one of the roots reaching out from the adjoining tree. The thrusting power that cracked these heavy concrete sidewalks was too small to measure on a daily or even a monthly basis, but its effect over time was incredibly powerful.”

Think about how slowly things can happen, but how powerful those things can become as we do them. What are some of the things we can do- simple little things- and what about the power that they can have in our lives?

  • I’ve been praying to let things go. So often we hold on to hurts or grudges, but I think learning to just let things go.
  • Show affection, even small affections, every day. Particularly with family members.

I think that’s huge. I think misunderstandings are huge. They can cause such conflicts.

  • Try to start your day with something like listening to a talk or reading your scriptures. Something that is spiritual to help you start the day in a good place.
  • Try to enjoy the things around you.
  • Looking for the good.
  • It’s very powerful.
  • It’s kind of remarkable we have super computers, smart cars that still operate with fossil fuels and without it they won’t work. We also have these wonderful bodies with spirituality, but if we don’t provide fuel for our body it’s not going to work. Simple, but daily we need to feed the body.

We could go on and on about the things we could do and it is important that we take care of ourselves, and we take care of each other. We take care of our family. I think we focus a lot as mothers on taking care of our families, but how often do we make sure that we take care of ourselves? I know there were times that as a single mother, I was really bad at it. I worked, I took care of my kids, and I really didn’t do anything to take care of myself, physically especially. How often do we forget the importance of taking care of ourselves- not just physical, but emotionally, mentally- that we take time to remember? Do we forget to pray or read our scriptures? Do we forget to thank our Heavenly Father for all of the things we have?

President Oaks shared this hymn,

Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I helped anyone in need?

Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?

If not, I have failed indeed.

Has anyone’s burden been lighter today

Because I was willing to share?

Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?

When they needed my help was I there?”

When we serve, we not only make someone else happy, but how do we feel ourselves?

  • I feel like serving someone they get something out of it, but we get so much. You’re changing as a person and that’s so much more.

I have a distant family member who has a daughter who struggles with some emotional problems and she recently went to a girl’s camp. She wasn’t going to go, but she asked for a special friend to go with her, which was cleared by her church leaders. It’s amazing how this young woman went to help her friend, but she grew so much from the experience of being in service.

The blessing we get even from doing small things for others- you just never know how much it will matter to everyone involved.

“President Steven C. Wheelwright gave an audience at Brigham Young University–Hawaii this inspired description of Alma’s teaching: “Alma confirms for his son that indeed the pattern the Lord follows when we exercise faith in Him and follow His counsel in small and simple things is that He blesses us with small daily miracles, and over time, with marvelous works.”

I think that we can all see miracles in our lives when we do things for others.

“A persuasive secular teaching of this same principle comes from former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, who wrote: “The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds and thousands of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private.”

“Those “seemingly insignificant” private decisions include how we use our time, what we view on television and the internet, what we read, the art and music with which we surround ourselves at work and at home, what we seek for entertainment, and how we apply our commitment to be honest and truthful.”

How much does that apply to us- especially today?

  • Growing up, I always wanted to be like my mom. While we got ready for school each day, she’s sit on the couch and read her Book of Mormon. Then she’d go to her room to get ready for the day. And so many times, I’d open the door to tell her something and I would see her kneeling by her bed praying. I don’t think she set out to teach her kids that that was important, but that’s what she did. What a small and simple thing that made such an impact on all of us. I hope one day that my kids don’t sit and reminisce about how many times I checked Facebook. So, I’ve been thinking about what small and simple things that I can do for me that they will see and learn from.

“President Brigham Young was reported as saying: “Our lives are made up of little, simple circumstances that amount to a great deal when they are brought together, and sum up the whole life of the man or woman.”

“We are surrounded by media influences and cultural deteriorations that will carry us downstream in our values if we are not continually resisting. To move upstream toward our eternal goal, we must constantly keep paddling. It helps if we are part of a team that is paddling together, like a rowing crew in action. To extend that example even further, the cultural currents are so strong that if we ever stop paddling, we will be carried downstream toward a destination we do not seek but which becomes inevitable if we do not constantly try to move forward.”

So, what happens when we stop doing what we need to do- even the little things? It’s easy to do, unfortunately. When we feel that we are starting to go backwards, like at night when we need to pray, but we’re so tired. We might think to skip it just tonight. But then how easy is it to then skip it every night after that? Then, all of a sudden, it’s been a week. As mortals, we all make mistakes, but that is why our Heavenly Father has always encouraged us to work together. That’s why He has given us Relief Society. It’s like he said, “It helps if we are part of a team that is paddling together […]” I love that. He [Heavenly Father] didn’t send us down here and say, ‘you’re on your own, good luck.’ We have families, we have wards, we have friends, we have people to help us. We’re not here on our own. We will be judged on our works, but that doesn’t mean that we have to do it on our own. I don’t think He would’ve given us all the people around us if He didn’t expect help to be given.

  • I listened to President Nelson’s fireside to the youth, which was awesome. His wife talked about how we bonded in the premortal [existence] and how we need to bond here too. She said the only thing that really matters is that you and I are doing what we promised to do and covenanted with our Heavenly Father to do. We don’t need to compare ourselves with others or be judgmental. We need to realize that we’re all in this journey together and we need to unite.

I had a story to share that I’ll just paraphrase- it talked about how this lady left her home and drove all the way to Utah. She didn’t even bring anything with her. She had a small testimony but knew that Utah is where she needed to go. She left friends behind because she knew they weren’t the type that she needed to have. And now, many years later, she can visit her previous home with her husband, two kids and what she calls the world, which is what she has since gained. Her experience was amazing. She worked on the small and simple things in her life. She joined a new team, one that she hadn’t been a part of before, but it changed her life.

I was blessed to be born into a great team. We’re blessed to have a great ward here. I think everyone realizes how important it is to have a great team.

In life we all experience times when we take two steps forward and one step back. It’s just important that we don’t take too many steps back.

“Similarly, even small acts of disobedience or minor failures to follow righteous practices can draw us down toward an outcome we have been warned to avoid. The Word of Wisdom provides an example of this. Likely the effect on the body of one cigarette or one drink of alcohol or one dose of another drug cannot be measured. But over time, the effect is powerful and may be irreversible. Remember the cracking of the sidewalk by the gradual small expansions of the root of the tree. One thing is certain, the terrible consequences of partaking of anything that can become addictive, like drugs that attack our bodies or pornographic material that degrades our thoughts, is totally avoidable if we never partake for the first time—even once.”

“Many years ago, President M. Russell Ballard described to a general conference audience “how small and simple things can be negative and destructive to a person’s salvation.” He taught: “Like weak fibers that form a yarn, then a strand, and finally a rope, these small things combined together can become too strong to be broken. We must ever be aware of the power that the small and simple things can have in building spirituality,” he said. “At the same time, we must be aware that Satan will use small and simple things to lead us into despair and misery.”

Satan is aware of the things he can do to get at us. When we make mistakes, he will try to make us get down on ourselves, which then can lead us into the wrong direction.

“President Wheelwright gave a similar caution to his BYU–Hawaii audience: “It is in failing to do the small and simple things that faith wavers, miracles cease, and progress towards the Lord and His kingdom is first put on hold and then begins to unravel as seeking after the kingdom of God is replaced with more temporal pursuits and worldly ambitions.”

How often do we see people replace God with worldly pursuits and it’s sad when that happens.

  • I had an opportunity the first year I was in college to live with my cousins in an ‘upper class’ home. One of their neighbors who was a professor, someone they knew for over 30 years and had been an active member of the church got divorced and left the church. It was a difficult thing for my extended family because they were so close. It seemed that this man had intellectualized himself out of the church. He could no longer believe because he stopped doing the small and simple things.

Unfortunately, that can happen. A lot of times as family or friends of those individuals, we have to continue doing the small and simple things and love them.

An extended member of my family made some choices as a teenager and left the church. It was a long time ago, so all the time I was growing up he was inactive. Later he married a gal whose ex-husband was in prison. She was so nice and enjoyed being in the family. When I was in college, she called my dad and asked if he would be willing to baptize her. She had had home teachers and visiting teachers that had come to see them and their children. My dad baptized her and the kids and over time he slowly decided to start coming to a few church events. Shortly after, one of their children, a toddler, died unexpectedly. We worried that she would fall away. But, she kept doing the small and simple things and the church members continued doing the small and simple things for them. A while later, my relative came back into full activity and they were sealed as a family.

Small and simple things not only bless our own lives but bless other people too.

 

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Pay attention to promptings for the small and simple things and follow through.
  • Choose one small and simple thing to improve upon and practice doing it each day.
  • Journal the small and simple experiences you have this week, detailing how they have impacted your life or others’ lives.

NEXT WEEK: Ministering Topic “Ministering is motivated by Christlike love.”

Highlights from Sunday’s topic discussion, “Young Women in the Work” by Bonnie L. Oscarson. 6/10/18

YW helping

Announcements:

June 11-13– Priests and Teachers Summer Activity

June 12– Ward Temple Night Brigham City 7pm session

June 16– Stake Primary Talent Show 9am

June 17– MEET AT THE FIELDING BLDG (no time changes) 4375 W 15600 N, 84311

June 19-22- Young Women camp

June 19 and June 22– Cannery Assignment

Stake RS Humanitarian Project: Please double your Temple attendance and when possible, choose a name from the stake drawer which includes names that the youth have found and baptized. You can also participate by doing indexing work and/or posting family stories or photos online. Add a gem to the progress jar for each name or batch that you complete.
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What were your impressions about this talk?

  • I have noticed a lot of problems with youth and anxiety and depression and everything that she [Sister Oscarson] said could help a lot of people. I know a lot came out during General Conference, but for me, this was the talk that stood out the most because the youth need it. The adults need to know that the youth need it and that we can trust the youth.

Sister Oscarson mentioned how Bishop Gérald Caussé talked to the young men in the previous General Conference and said they, “are inseparable partners in accomplishing the work of salvation.1 That message has been a great blessing in helping the young men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood see the part they play in building the kingdom of God on this earth. Their joint service strengthens the Church and brings about deeper conversion and commitment in the hearts of our young men as they see the value of their contribution and how magnificent this work is. Today I would like for my remarks to be a bookend to that message as I talk about the young women of the Church, who are equally needed and essential in accomplishing the work of the Lord in their families and in His Church.”

She mentions two places that the young women are needed, in their families and in His church.

Then she tells about an experience she had as a young woman when she lived outside of Utah- she said, “I lived in a small branch of the Church during a good part of my teen years, and I was often asked to fulfill assignments and callings that would normally have been done by adults. For example, those of us in the youth program often took the lead in helping organize and run our activities and special events. We wrote plays, formed a singing group to entertain at branch activities, and were full participants in every meeting. I was called to be the branch music leader and led the singing in sacrament meeting each week. It was a great experience as a 16-year-old to stand in front of everyone in the branch each Sunday and lead them in singing the hymns. I felt needed and knew I had something to contribute. People depended on me to be there, and I loved feeling useful. That experience helped build my testimony of Jesus Christ, and just as it did for Bishop Caussé, it anchored my life in gospel service.”

What are some experiences you had as a youth or as a young adult, whether you were a member of the church or not at that time, that anchored your life and testimony in Jesus Christ or that turned your life toward Jesus Christ?

  • My friend’s dad was our bishop when we were kids and he had gone bird hunting with his nephew and they had a shooting accident. We had a ward fast and he lived. It was a bad thing to happen, but we were all so impressed.
  • When I was living [in another state] and turned 18 most of our close-knit friends went away to college. I chose to stay home and I was the only 18-year-old girl in our whole ward. I felt out of place and didn’t know where I belonged and they called me to be the nursey leader. At the time, it was just me and no helpers and I loved it. It felt like it was essential that I was there. I knew that it mattered to those kids that I was there. I decided after about a year to go to the single’s ward and that’s where I met my husband.
  • For me it was a mixture of my young women leaders and seminary. I think that’s where I started to realize what was my testimony and what was just my parent’s and that was my solid foundation. Young women’s camp was also an important experience for me.
  • When I was a kid we lived in an area that was very Catholic and they went to church every Sunday and Mass a couple times a week. One time a student of my dad’s came over and was talking about how she didn’t feel the Catholic services were the same as they were in her home town. And I thought about that when I went to church that we were taught from the same manuals and the used the same pictures, same everything. I didn’t realize until that point what a big deal it is to have the doctrines of the church be uniform. We would get the same lesson wherever we went. Even now, we are all reading lessons from the conference talks. It really hit me then that the church is worldwide, but it’s uniform.

Those are all great experiences. Did you notice how they are all so different and unique? The goal of anchoring our life in the gospel was still achieved for each of these sisters. There can be individual things that happen, but yet have the same result.

Sister Oscarson said, “Each member should know how much he or she is needed. Each person has something important to contribute and has unique talents and abilities that help move this important work along.”

Service is one of the things that she said gave her that anchor in the gospel. What are some goals that are achieved when we serve others? What are the payoffs when we serve?

  • We develop a love for them [the ones we serve].
  • More understanding of the people we serve.
  • Forget your own problems.
  • Learn responsibility.
  • Sometimes you find solutions to your own problems when you serve.
  • When you look back on different times in your life when you served and they’re your greatest memories.
  • I’ve gained friendships when I have served with others.
  • I think it helps with self-esteem too. When we give to others, we forget ourselves and then we feel better about ourselves.

Service gives us a feeling of acceptance, better self-esteem, more value. If you’re serving in a group or an organization you’ll be more invested in the goals of that organization. You take some personal ownership of that.

“Our young men have Aaronic Priesthood duties described in the Doctrine and Covenants that are rather visible. It may be less obvious to the young women of the Church, their parents, and their leaders that, from the time they are baptized, young women have covenant responsibilities “to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [they] may be in, even until death.’”

Mosiah 18:8-10 tells us what is required and what our responsibilities are after baptism:

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

I was really impressed when reading that that those are the requirements and blessings of being baptized. Right in there is part of the young women theme which is, ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in.’ We are already encouraging our young women to uphold their baptismal covenants, but part of that is that we can involve them more overall in the church. I think that’s what we’ve been asked to do since conference. We have done that in the past, but now we’re revamping it to be more.

I listened to President Nelson’s devotional last night and he talked about enlisting in the Army and to be a part of things. I began to think about who should be encouraging the youth to sign on their “registration cards” to get enlisted- I think that’s us. As parents, youth leaders, and other examples in the ward we’re supposed to help them to do that.

What are some examples that sisters can do to encourage the youth and children in our ward to enlist them to help serve in our ward?

  • Babysit on ward temple night.
  • Magnify your calling.
  • Be ministering sisters with them.
  • Visit the elderly or single sisters that live alone. Some of our sisters don’t talk to anyone unless someone comes for a visit.
  • The younger girls are looking to the young women to be examples for them. Whether they realize it or not, they are being watched by the younger girls.
  • Temple and family history work.
  • They can do things in their realm like changing a conversation that’s not going in a good direction, they can befriend the girl that nobody knows, they can do those little things that make a huge impact.

I was able to go to the temple the other day and do some baptisms and it was neat to see the young men and young women basically running the whole thing. So much has changed in the last little while. So many more opportunities to serve.

Sister Oscarson said, “In Handbook 2, we learn that the work of salvation within our wards includes “member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel.”3 This work is directed by our faithful bishops, who hold priesthood keys for their ward. For many years now, our presidency has been asking the question “Which of these areas mentioned should our young women not be involved in?” The answer is that they have something to contribute in all areas of this work.”

“Several months ago, I had the opportunity to test an idea with two 14-year-old young women. I obtained copies of two actual ward council agendas and gave Emma and Maggie each a copy. I asked them to read over the agendas and see if there were any action items from the ward councils in which they might be able to be of service. Emma saw that a new family was moving into the ward, and she said she could help them move in and unpack. She thought she could befriend the children in the family and show them around their new school. She saw there was a ward dinner coming up and felt there were many different ways she could offer her services. […] There really wasn’t one thing on those agendas with which those two young women could not help!”

“Do those who sit on ward councils, or hold any calling in the ward, see the young women as valuable resources to help fill the many needs within our wards? There is usually a long list of situations that require someone to serve, and we often think only of the adults in the ward to meet those needs. Just as our Aaronic Priesthood holders have been invited to labor with their fathers and other men of the Melchizedek Priesthood, our young women can be called upon to provide service and minister to the needs of ward members with their mothers or other exemplary sisters. They are capable, eager, and willing to do so much more than merely attend church on Sundays!”

How can we help create some of those anchoring experiences that we had as youth for our young sisters in the ward?

  • I remember when I was a youth there was an elderly lady that needed help cleaning out her cupboards. I took all of the dishes out and cleaned everything and put it all back, it created such a bond. I still remember her name, the house, I still remember what her dishes looked like. I still remember the feelings I had while I was helping.
  • I think we can ask them. We are coming at things from our own perspective that we think this is the way things should be run and the youth have all sorts of ideas. If we tell them to do something, it might work out well, but if it doesn’t come from them they might not have the same attitude. Not that they’d have a bad attitude about it but having their ideas and input would change everything. If they knew that we valued what they thought they would appreciate that and we can learn something from them.

I thought about how when Christ went to bless the children and the disciples turned them away, but Christ said, ‘suffer the children to come unto me.’ The youth have so many ideas, they have so much energy and excitement for the work. If we can foster that and turn them away. Value their ideas and we’ll be on the right track.

“As we consider the roles that our young women will be expected to assume in the near future, we might ask ourselves what kind of experiences we could provide for them now that will help with their preparation to be missionaries, gospel scholars, leaders in the Church auxiliaries, temple workers, wives, mothers, mentors, examples, and friends.”

I remembered when they changed the missionary age, I remember people in the media asking church leaders, ‘how are you going to expect young women to go on missions when they haven’t even been in Relief Society yet?’ That really struck me- do we really have to go to Relief Society to be able to be a missionary? If you don’t think they can be missionaries yet, how will they go off to college and have a firm testimony or become mothers? I have really thought about that over the years. There are a lot of things that we learn in Relief Society and this organization is great and awesome, but the young women are also part of a great organization and they’re learning in there too.

“They can actually begin now to fill many of those roles. Youth are often asked to help teach lessons on Sunday in their classes. Opportunities are now available for our young women to perform service in the temple previously completed by ordinance workers or volunteers when they attend with their youth groups to perform baptisms for the dead. Our Primary-age girls are now invited to attend Temple and Priesthood Preparation meetings, which will help them understand that they too are important participants in priesthood-directed work. They are learning that men, women, youth, and children are all recipients of priesthood blessings and all can take an active role in moving forward the Lord’s work.”

She emphasizes over and over to be more than a spectator in the work of our Heavenly Father. I think that goes for us too. We can’t become complacent about our place in the gospel. We need to be proactive in our service.

“To you, the young women of the Church, your teenage years can be busy and often challenging. We have noticed that many more of you are struggling with issues of self-worth, anxiety, high levels of stress, and perhaps even depression. Turning your thoughts outward, instead of dwelling on your own problems, may not resolve all of these issues, but service can often lighten your burdens and make your challenges seem less hard. One of the best ways to increase feelings of self-worth is to show, through our concern and service to others, that we have much of worth to contribute.5 I encourage you young women to raise your hands to volunteer and to put those hands to work when you see needs around you. As you fulfill your covenant responsibilities and participate in building the kingdom of God, blessings will flow into your life and you’ll discover the deep and lasting joy of discipleship.”

To go along with that, this last week President Nelson challenged the youth to go on a seven-day social media fast. Have any of you young women done that and would you share your experiences with us?

  • (Young Woman) For me, I didn’t really miss it. I kind of have a habit to just sit there and click on things, but I have not really missed it. Today is my seventh day and I don’t really feel the need to sit on my phone as much as before.
  • (Young Woman) I feel like it’s just something we click on when we feel like we have nothing else to do, but when we are in a situation like this- I got a ton done this week!
  • (RS Sister) We did this as a whole family and I can’t believe how much of our time was robbed [before]. I thought before that I just got on it occasionally and we have been off of it all week and we have had the best week. I talked to my sister who also did it, and she said she felt that she wasn’t as quick to anger. I just couldn’t believe the difference it made. I know the youth struggle with anxiety and depression and I think they see everyone’s lives [on social media] and think they are perfect and that they’re going places and doing things and then compare it with themselves and think they are not as perfect or pretty or rich or whatever it is.
  • (RS Sister) To go along with that idea that social media is tied to anxiety and depression- I think that you compare yourself, but also when you are looking at things that are instant, the creative part of your brain doesn’t function, so you can’t problem-solve. And problem-solving is one of the greatest sources of anxiety for teenagers. When they can’t problem-solve because everything has been fed to them and they don’t have that creative part of the brain growing then they do become more anxious and depressed. My girls found other things to do this week and you could see that they were more creative and their problem-solving skills were working better. They had to use that part of their intellect.
  • (RS Sister) The cool thing about my son asking me to go with him to the devotional was when he leaned over and said ‘mom, I don’t have social media, but guess what? You do!’ I started on Tuesday, but let me tell you, my battery has stayed charged! I like how President Nelson said, ‘take a break from fake.’ And that’s what it feels like sometimes because you look at everybody’s vacations and perfect family moments and those are the moments that you choose to put on there because those are the good moments. I also noticed that I have not been so quick to anger and my kids have had my attention more fully. I’m not going to lie- I did miss it, but I think I’m going to extend it a bit.
  • (Young Woman) When we were there, my dad is big on having us put our phones away and take breaks he’s been trying to get my brother to do that more and when he [Pres Nelson] said that, my brother leaned over and asked if my dad paid him [Pres Nelson] to say that! I think it’s important that our parents know what’s good for us and that they’re on the same page with the prophet.

I hope we got some ideas on how we can help our young women to serve and be a more integral part of our ward.

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

  • Invite your daughter to reach out and help you serve someone this week.
  • OR, invite a young woman in our ward to come help you with a project.
  • Pray for opportunities to help our young women and young girls.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Small and Simple Things” by President Dallin H. Oaks (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)